Manbiki kazoku [Shoplifters] (2018)

Manbiki kazoku
Director: Hirokazu Koreeda
Writer: Hirokazu Koreeda
Cast: Lily Franky, Sakura Andô, Kirin Kiki, Mayu Matsuoka, Jyo Kairi, Miyu Sasaki
Seen on: 23.1.2019

Content Note: child abuse

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.

The film poster showing the entire family at the beach, holding hands as they jump over a wave.
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An [Sweet Red Bean Paste] (2015)

Director: Naomi Kawase
Writer: Naomi Kawase
Based on: Durian Sukegawa’s novel
Cast: Kirin Kiki, Masatoshi Nagase, Kyara Uchida, Miyoko Asada, Etsuko Ichihara
Seen on: 5.2.2016

Sentaro (Masatoshi Nagase) runs a small pancake shop mostly visited by school girls like the shy Wakana (Kyara Uchida) who often comes to visit and gets the misshapen pancakes from Sentaro. Sentaro is dutiful in his upkeep of the shop, but it is clear that his heart isn’t really in it. When one day the well over 70 years old Tokue (Kirin Kiki) shows up and asks whether she can fulfill her lifelong dream of working in just such a pancake shop by helping him out, Sentaro isn’t convinced she can actually handle things. But she convinces him with her home-made An, sweet red bean paste. But just as they start to really get into working with each other, the fact that Tokue has leprosy makes the rounds, which people see as a health risk.

An is a sweet film (no pun intended) with a slightly cheesy story that is built around a firm core of social criticism.

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