Shoplifters (Manbiki Kazoku)

14/11/2019 19:30.
Cert 15

The theme of modern Japanese family life here takes an unexpected turn into the disparate and, as it turns out, unrelated lives of the Shibata family. This small group of people, on the fringes of society, share a tumble-down
home belonging to the grandmother they have adopted, and live by illegal and illicit means. Their care towards each other is equal that of any traditional family unit or perhaps beyond it, as they create their own version in response to their previous experiences.

We welcome Alex Jacoby, acknowledged expert in Japanese cinema, to introduce and discuss the film.

“This small film is a thoughtful addition to his parables about happy and unhappy families (Nobody Knows, After the Storm), studded with memorable characters and believable performances that quietly lead
the viewer to reflect on societal values.” 

Deborah Young,
The Hollywood Reporter

Dir: Hirokazu Koreeda, Japan, 121 mins, 2018

Programme Notes

We again welcome Alex Jacoby, acknowledged expert in Japanese cinema, to introduce and discuss tonight’s film

Director Hirokazu Kore-eda is the master of modern day family drama and in Shoplifters delivers perhaps the most vivid portrayal of a down-at-heel and barely surviving family. His film is an exploration of the lives of an under- class, not usually made apparent in Japanese film-making and other media.

Kore-eda commences by showing us a ‘shopping’ expedition where a father and son are stealing provisions for their family. We follow them back to a dilapidated house, owned by Grandmother and hidden from view by overgrown shrubbery, all in stark contrast to the usual perception of neat and orderly Japanese domesticity. We discover that the group of people who live in this cramped and chaotic way are not in fact related but go by the adopted name of Shibata.

What becomes of this ‘family’, who live so close to the edge as they go about their various enterprises, will tear at your heart. Love, compassion and humanity are central to Kore-eda’s story.

“If society truly arranged itself for the happiness of its citizens, family would be a thing you choose and not an accident of birth but the low-key, lovely lament of Shoplifters is that that is not the way this broken world works”

Jessica Kiang, SightandSound


  • Riveting film!
  • A beautiful film – and what amazing performances from the children
  • Beautifully made – it tugged at your heartstrings
  • Such warmth in a family that was not a family!
  • An extra-ordinary achievement, with an excellent ensemble cast and stellar staging of its key scenes. Alex expounded well director Kore-eda’s personal account of creating the film, along with his usual depth of understanding of the way Japanese culture is represented in Kore-eda’s vast back catalogue
  • Quite a difficult film to follow – it would need to be seen several times to be fully appreciated. The indoor scenes were very dimly lit, making it hard to identify the different characters. Excellent introduction by Alex Jacoby
  • Certainly a different view of life in Japan. The film spent too much time on the build-up but was alright once it got going


A:16, B:6, C:1, D:0, E:0 to give 91% from 92% of those present.