A master of threading the needle between conflict and contrivance, Kore-eda manages to turn this drama inside out without every betraying its most resonant truth.
What are people saying?
What are critics saying?
The Hollywood Reporter by Deborah Young
This small film is a thoughtful addition to his parables about happy and unhappy families (Nobody Knows, After the Storm), studded with memorable characters and believable performances that quietly lead the viewer to reflect on societal values.
Boasting excellent performances all round (with the writer-director once again demonstrating his expertise with children), Shoplifters is another charming, funny and very affecting example of Kore-eda’s special brand of tough-but-tender humanism.
A quietly devastating portrayal of family and theft in contemporary Japan.
Los Angeles Times by Justin Chang
A tender ensemble piece whose skillful performances dovetail into a perfectly symphonic whole, "Shoplifters" is a work of such emotional delicacy and formal modesty that you're barely prepared when the full force of what it's doing suddenly knocks you sideways.
Screen International by Lee Marshall
Some of the credit must go to the stellar casting and performances. It’s difficult to single out one of the six actors in this alternative family unit as it’s a true ensemble display. But Kore-eda’s deft command of tone is a key factor too.
At once charming and heart-wrenching, this exquisitely performed film will steal the hearts of both art-house and mainstream audiences.
The Guardian by Peter Bradshaw
It is a movie made up of delicate brushstrokes: details, moments, looks and smiles.
The Telegraph by Robbie Collin
Shoplifters is compassionate, socially conscious filmmaking with a piercing intelligence that is pure Kore-eda. This is a film that steals in and snatches your heart.
The Film Stage by Rory O'Connor
By drawing our empathy for such morally dubious and potentially damaging characters, Shoplifters remains a real heartbreaker, the kind of which only this director seems capable.
'Shoplifters' is deceptive in an absolutely necessary way. My, and a lot of people's, natural inclination is to trust the media that report the news for us. It is only when I have reason to doubt the given narrative that I do, but for the most part, I don't have the time to investigate each individual report that comes across Channel 5 each night. But obviously, Kore-eda's media hardly reports the truth, but a publicly digestible yet horribly perverted version of it. The family is nothing but loving and caring for each other. Their flaws within the family structure are human and real: desiring a certain kind of father-son relationship; wishing to go back to a time when you were the only child to love; losing the grandma who gives the best advice on staying a dignified young woman when men ogle those who work in her profession; learning to trust when life has taught you by the mere age of 5 that you cannot trust. These are real and absolutely raw portraits of humanity, yet they are inevitably morphed into mug shots by the media. 'Local girl returned from kidnapping murderers to her biological parents' has a certain retributive appeal to it, doesn't it? Our adult characters are morally dubious, sure, but so are the adults in more sanitized positions in society. There is the shopkeeper, who pities Shota and Yuri and merely asks Shota to not make Yuri do the shoplifting herself, and there is Nobuyo's coworker, who sees Yuri with them and blackmails her with leaking that she is a kidnapper. Their intentions are good and bad respectively, with dubious consequences. Nobuyo and Osamu had intentions and consequences of their intentions that fluctuated between good, bad, and dubious, but in the present, what we see of them is a good intention with a positive impact on Yuri. If that isn't a redemption story in the fullest sense of the phrase, then I don't know what is. But such real, tangible redemption stories aren't always perceived and represented as such. We have to ask ourselves: with our good intentions, do we, as individuals and participants in larger systems, always create the best outcome?
This film has such a calm aesthetic, yet the twists are unpredictable. It is a beautiful examination of contemporary Japan. The performances are great, especially the children. I look forward to watching Kore-eda's recent film 'The Truth.'
This is such a calming, beautiful film. The kind of movie that will only get better on each rewatch. All the actors did such an incredible job here, especially the two kids. This film did drag on a bit for me at the end, but never at the expense of its imagery, which is gorgeous.