Shoplifters (Hirokazu Koreeda, 2018)

2018 was, among other things, the year I waited for movies to show up in Seattle's movie semi-wasteland. "Shoplifters" was one of those movies, but it was worth the wait. As of today I've seen every (fictional) movie by Koreeda, and this is definitely one of his best. What it most obviously shares with previous films is actors (more than one) and a focus on the family unit. And if you have seen his earlier movies you will recognize the face-on documentary style of the interview scenes, and the suggestion of the name "Hana" for the little girl has to be a reference to Koreeda's early movie of the same name. More than that, though, this movie shares a patient build-up of emotion that sneaks up on you as the dimensions of each character come to light. The children are central, but they are part of a bigger, sadder puzzle created by the adults: it's an ensemble story, perfectly told. It could easily be a stage play. I'm not going to spoil it for you by saying any more — just go see it right away.



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