Plot: The Shibata family – mother Nobuyo (Ando Sakura), father Osamu (Franky Lily), son Shota (Jyo Kairi), daughter Aki (Mayu Matsuoka) and grandmother Hatsue (Kirin Kiki) all live in Hatsue’s small apartment, barely scraping by with odd jobs and Hatsue’s pension. They still have to supplement their income by shoplifting – which they have mastered into an art. One night, they find a little girl on the street, going through garbage, looking for food. They take her home and give her food – and then push off calling the police more and more. But their precarious position is at risk.
Shoplifters is a strong film, albeit a little too long (as Japanese films so often are for me). It certainly took me places I really didn’t expect – and did so in a very sensitive and frighteningly realistic way.
Sachi (Haruka Ayase), Yoshino (Masami Nagasawa) and Chika (Kaho) are sisters who live together in their grandmother’s house. They have had to fend for themselves for a while, with Sachi as the oldest acting as a surrogate mother. When they hear that their estranged father died, they decide to go to the funeral where they meet their young half-sister Suzu (Suzu Hirose). The three older sisters are surprised, but after realizing that things are rather dire for Suzu at home, they invite her to stay with them. Suzu accepts, bringing a fresh wind into all of their lives.
Umimachi Diary is a sweet, uplifting film. It’s a film where nothing much happens and at the same time a lot is going on – just as with life, giving it a welcome air of realism, but nicely honed to exclude most of the struggles.