Manbiki Kazoku (Shoplifters)

Lift It Higher.

Koreeda is a skillful writer weaving out set pieces in his words that are individually captivating in its entirety. And the result is one long satisfying stay. You feel like a guest entering his world and he welcomes you with open arms. He is a host that respects the boundaries and sculpts the antics accordingly. To be honest, his film is split into only two acts. It all starts with Yuri (Muyi Sasaki) accepting the house as a guest and the response she gets from each member of the house. Picking out a string of an equation of each member of the family with her, the act spirals out series of sequences that brick by brick constructs a suave strong bonding in the risky yet overprotective house.

And on the other side, the second act, is completely opposite, it deconstructs those already established rumors, with the help of the clues spread around in its first act, and the fire catches slowly and poetically. The characters start questioning things that we- the audience- have been questioning from the first frame, and this connection has its own merits, it feels incredibly cathartic to dance in sync with the characters. Aki played by Mayu Matsuoka has the strongest role to portray, particularly since she is away from all the razzle dazzle that this family goes through.

And yet spiritually she finds the same mirror to confront herself in. Her bonding with her grandmother that isn’t actually explored thoroughly in the film is actually subjected to Sasaki’s character that is in her initial stages of this grand welcome of the family; a masterstroke by the writer. Osamu (Lily Franky) and Shota (Jyo Kairi), the core relationship of the film pins down the fragility of the responsibility that a teacher or an idol carries but personally I loved his equation with Aki (Sakura Ando) as it never fully conjures the screen.

There is a lot that they have been through and evidently a lot we have to catch up with, the decision maker and the hard worker and the nature versus nurture, these improvements raised in early stages makes it more shady and juicy. And Ando as a protective guardian to this family has performed majestically, her confessional scenes- and there are plenty- can reason out of the room, the moment when she finally accepts Sasaki as her daughter and burns her clothes, is one of the best scene of the film.

It projects not only her willful right and the command over the spirit but also her confident to be a parent; a powerful scene sincerely fabricated by equally powerful performance. Koreeda’s world is actually too diplomatic to be cinematic, yet his meticulous script that glorifies tiny characteristics of the scenario, brings out an exhilarating experience from us. This is a sort of script that thrives upon various elements, collecting them like coins, Koreeda is on a sprint for a marathon where at the end of the line, these Shoplifters are more humans even though less civilized.

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