SHO­PLIFTERS: A very pe­cu­liar fam­ily

Montreal Times - - News -

What is a fam­ily? That's a ques­tion with no easy an­swer, or rather, a ques­tion that in re­cent times has elicited new re­sponses, away from tra­di­tional no­tions. "Sho­plifters" di­rected by Hirokazu Koreeda, was the sur­prise win­ner of the Palme d'Or at this year's edi­tion of the Cannes Fes­ti­val. Pre­cisely the ques­tion about what con­sti­tutes a fam­ily is un­der­ly­ing in this movie which starts by show­ing Osamu (Lily Franky) and a boy, Shota (Jyo Kairi), dili­gently shoplift­ing in a su­per­mar­ket. On their way home, they no­tice a girl who seems hun­gry and dis­tressed, with­out much think­ing they take her to their place with the in­ten­tion of giv­ing her some food. Even­tu­ally, the lit­tle girl called Yuri but who the fam­ily will call Lin (Miyu Sasaki) will be adopted by them in a clearly ir­reg­u­lar man­ner, since the child ob­vi­ously has her own mother and fa­ther, although they are not par­tic­u­larly con­cerned about the child.

The fam­ily is very spe­cial: Osamu's wife, Nobuyo (Sakura Andô) works in a laun­dry where she steals things she finds in pock­ets, there is also a ma­tri­arch, Hat­sue (Kirin Kiki) whom they all call grandma, although her only real rel­a­tive seems to be Aki (Mayo Mat­suoka) who works as a strip­per in a peep show par­lour.

The film presents a very un­usual view of Ja­panese so­ci­ety: marginal­ized peo­ple, try­ing to sur­vive by petty crime and liv­ing out­side the reg­u­lar in­sti­tu­tions and norms.At times the spec­ta­tor may feel dis­ori­ented by the re­la­tions among the mem­bers of the fam­ily, but the pieces of the puz­zle would even­tu­ally be put to­gether as we ap­proach the end of the movie.

There is some kind of sen­si­tiv­ity in the at­mos­phere of this pe­cu­liar fam­ily which might move the au­di­ence, although there are also some mo­ments where the pace seems to slow down. In the end one must come to terms with the no­tion that if we are go­ing to find some es­sen­tial el­e­ment to de­fine what a fam­ily is, we should con­clude, with the movie, that a fam­ily is sim­ply a group where its mem­bers care for each other, re­gard­less of whether there is a blood re­la­tion be­tween them.

"Sho­plifters" will be liked by those who en­joy the film as art, and also by those who want to take a dif­fer­ent look at the Ja­panese so­ci­ety: how some sec­tors of so­ci­ety who live in poverty man­age to cope.

The movie is be­ing shown in Ja­panese with English or French sub­ti­tles, please check the the­atres.

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