Shoplifters is a Japanese drama movie that was released in 2018. This movie got nominated for an Academy Award for the Best Foreign Language Film of the Year. To me, this movie was special because it was so realistic. The story line, the environment and the characters can be defined as pragmatic. So I think this picture is a masterpiece.
The story revolves around a family. But this is not a usual typical family. This was a non-biological family. They all lived in a house that was owned by Hatsue. She was the grandmother of the family. And there was this husband and wife named Osamu and Nobuyo. And then, there was this beautiful young girl named Aki and a ten year old boy named Shota. None of them were related by blood to each other.
Osamu and Nobuyo found Hatsue when she was living alone. Hatsue had a pension of 70000 yens per month from her late husband and she also was scamming Aki’s parents at the time. That’s how she found Aki. Osamu and Nobuyo found Shota when he was a kid and took him in as their son.
Osamu was a day laborer and a shoplifter. He took Shota with him when he goes shoplifting. They had this secret hand signals they use when shoplifting. Osamu always told Shota “Whatever is in a store doesn’t belong to anyone yet”. That’s how he justified shoplifting to Shota. Nobuyo worked at a laundry service and Aki worked at a hostess club. So, one day when Osamu and Shota were coming home at night, they saw a little girl named Yuri at a porch by herself in the cold.
So they brought her home and fed her. Later, Osamu brings her back with Nobuyo. But they heard a fight form inside the house. Then they realized that this little girl was abused in that house. So they decided to take her in. Then she gets close to the family and they live happily for a while.
Osamu started to bring Yuri as well when he shoplifts. At first Shota says that he doesn’t like when Yuri comes with them to shoplift but Osamu explains that, it would make her feel useful. After about two months, they see in news about Yuri and she was kidnapped. So they had to return her but before that, they asked Yuri, if she wants to go back or wants to stay with them and Yuri says that she wants to stay. So they cut her hair short so she would not be recognized as the missing girl.
They lived happily like this and everyone got close to Yuri and started to love her. Then Hatsue dies because of her old age. After that, Osamu and Nobuyo knew they had no choice but to bury her inside the house because if they call authority, they would take the kids and the house from them. So after they buried her, Shota goes to a shop with Yuri. Then Yuri tries to steel something but Shota said don’t. But she didn’t understood that since she was so small. So Shota took a pack of oranges and started to run so Yuri wouldn’t get caught.
Then Shota jumps off a bridge and breaks his leg. After that, Osamu and Nobuyo went to the police station as Shota’s parents to take him home but the police said that they have to fill forms. They knew that they would get caught if that happens. So they avoided it and went home and packed their bags and tried to run with Yuri and Aki. But they got caught before they could run away.
Then Osamu and Nobuyo told everything to the police. The audience sees that Nobuyo have killed her former abusive husband with Osamu and that’s how they connect with each other. Then Nobuyo tells the police that she buried Hatsue’s body all by herself and took the blame so Osamu wouldn’t go to jail. Then the police tell Aki that Hatsue didn’t cared about her at all and she just wanted to scam her parents.
So after everything, Aki returns home and the police gave Yuri to her mom and took Shota to an orphanage. Osamu got to go free because Nobuyo took all the blame. So she went to prison. Then later, Osamu and Shota went to prison to see Osamu and then she told him where they found him so he can find his real family. Then Osamu took Shota to his new home and he stayed the night with him. While he was staying, Osamu told him that they tried to leave him when he got caught.
Then the next day, when Shota was about to get into the bus, Osamu told him that he shouldn’t come to see him anymore. Then Shota gets upsets and the bus started to go. Then Osamu ran behind the bus while screaming Shota’s name because he knew that Shota was the only one he had left. Then Shota saw him running and whispered “Dad”. It was an affectionate moment because throughout the movie, Osamu wanted Shota to call him dad but he refused. Then we see a clip of Yuri playing alone by herself in the balcony and the movie ends.
To me personally, this film was phenomenal because not only the story was so realistic but also, the director managed to address a lot of issues in the modern Japanese society, such as poverty, child abuse and thievery.
The acting was also superb. Especially Shota and Yuri character’s acting were astonishing since they were done by child actors. I got sad when I found out that the actress that played Hatsue has died before this movie released. I also tried to find any mistake or plot holes in the story but I couldn’t find any. So I think this is a movie that is worth watching.