Kore-Eda focuses his family kaleidoscope

Film still of Manbiki kazoku (Shoplifters) © RR


Kore-Eda Hirokazu, winner of the 2013 Jury Prize for Like Father, Like Son (2013) has his seventh film in Selection and fourth in Competition. In Manbiki Kazoku (Shoplifters), the Japanese director moves away from father-son relations and quietly tells the story of Shibata Osamu (Lily Franky) and her family, who are deeply affected by their encounter with Hojo Juri (Sasaki Miyu), an abused child. This film allows the virtuoso of true-life cinema to deepen his exploration of the family unit in a whole new way.

The pains and blunders of childhood, sensitive reflections on the role of a father… whatever angle the Japanese director chooses, the family is at the centre of his work. In a less intimate and more angry mood than we are used to seeing him, Kore-Eda Hirokazu continues his exploration of human existence under the roof of the Shibatas, a dysfunctional household who are partners in crime. The story, with shades of rites-of-passage, is carried by outstanding actors, some of whom, like Kiki Kilin, are well on their way to becoming favourites. Having played the iconic grandmother character in Like father, like son (2013) and After the Storm (2016), she returns as the wonderful elder in Shoplifters.

Kore-Eda Hirokazu is the established heir to Yasujiro Ozu, sharing his fascination with atmospheres which fade over time. Real life stories are born from his realist visions, where, just as in real life, we pass from laughter to tears.

Even though the film is realist, I wanted to convey the poetry of the human beings we encounter there. Photos, like music, were among the tools I wanted to use to achieve that.

In terms of images, the celebrated Japanese director of photography Kondo Ryuto gives the director "a very rich oversight" of the production, helped by his many suggestions for interpretations of the story and its characters. The composer Hosono Haruomi's music goes perfectly with the "fantastical dimension of the story", according to the director.