- Written and directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda
- Starring Lily Franky and Sakura Ando
- Classification 14A
- 121 minutes
Sometimes, the films of the Japanese master Hirokazu Kore-eda remind me of the novels of Paul Auster, deceptively simple prose that builds slowly into a puzzle of quietly explosive force.
A poet laureate of family and morality, his humanist triumphs include Like Father, Like Son, a meditation on the meaning of parenthood that picked up the jury prize at Cannes in 2013. Shoplifters, which won this year’s Palme d’Or, revisits the theme and goes deeper, telling a story about a Tokyo family that subsidizes its working-class existence with petty thefts.
One cold winter night, they bring home a neglected little girl they find on the street, intending to take her back after she’s been fed and warmed up. In time, though, we learn she’s more like them than she seems.
Kore-eda unveils the family’s manifold mysteries slowly, with beguiling grace. When the shoplifters execute their crimes, they usually do so with slick cunning and leave their victims none the wiser. The director, though, reaches in and steals your heart right in front of your eyes, like a magic trick, and you have to admit you didn’t even see it coming.
Shoplifters opens Dec. 21 in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal.