Shoplifters is a Japanese language film with subtitles, a complex meditation of the meaning of “family”. One by one we meet an elderly woman, Grandmother, and a man and a young boy who appears to be his son, and two women one of whom might be the mother of this family, and finally a little girl who is abused and left out on a cold balcony by her trendy parents and who is caught up and brought to the tiny, crowded space that constitutes “home”. Before long it’s evident that none of these people are related, that they all cheat in some way to bring in the small amount of money that pays for noodles and a dry place to sleep and an outing to the beach, and that their primary occupation is shoplifting.
That said, they are more deeply and profoundly a family than the parents who hardly realized the little girl is missing and when they do, seem not to care.
This film played at SIFF, our arts theater, and I don’t imagine it will be in wide distribution. If you can track it down, highly recommend that you go. The cinematography is beautiful, the two child actors engaging, and the story heart wrenching. There is no happy ending, but nor is there for a lot of families who are more like the conventional than this one.