Shoplifters is a Japanese drama that lost the Foreign Language Oscar to Netflix’s Roma, which Steven Spielberg thinks is a TV movie – bit rich coming from the director of Duel. And The Lost World for that matter.

Set largely in a ramshackle yet homely hovel, Shoplifters is an unusual film about an unusual family in Tokyo who take in a young girl they find on the street. There are echoes of The Florida Project in the tender, child-centric way it addresses poverty, family and responsibility.

Writer/director/editor Hirokazu Kore-eda (“Not cinematographer or producer? Lazy.” – Alfonso Cuarón) brings nuance, morality and a lightness of touch to difficult themes like kidnapping and child abuse, achieving a delicate balance of subtle humour and authentic sadness. He shoots the confined space intimately and colourfully, carefully capturing the ensemble’s natural performances and touching relationships with joy, sensitivity and thoughtfulness.

Gently paced but not without surprises, the picture questions the nature of family and the notion of innocence. A beautifully human film, Shoplifters will steal your heart.

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