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Review: Shoplifters

Returned to IFC Center to catch a screening of Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Shoplifters. Like After the Storm, this Palme d’Or winning masterpiece follows a cast of unconventional, morally-ambiguous protagonists—in this case, a makeshift family of blue collar workers struggling to make ends meet (even taking the elderly matriarch’s pension into account), often resorting to petty theft just to put food on the table. When they make a spur-of-the-moment decision to “rescue” a five-year-old girl that they suspect is being neglected and abused, however, their small-time criminal enterprise begins to unravel. They’re not “heroes” by any stretch of the imagination, but they exhibit a certain rebellious quality that makes them almost admirable; in a society that values staying quiet and “minding one’s own business,” this ragtag band of outsiders and outcasts dares to support one another (unlike the so-called “proper authorities,” who would prefer to ignore the injustices they’ve endured).

[Originally written November 24, 2018.]

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