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Opening Date
12 Jul 2018
M18 Some Sexual Scenes
121 mins
Japanese - subtitles to be advised
Crime, Drama
Hirokazu Koreeda
Lily Franky, Jyo Kairi, Sakura Andô, Kiki Kilin, Mayu Matsuoka, Sasaki Miyu
After one of their shoplifting sessions, Osamu and his son come across a little girl in the freezing cold. At first reluctant to shelter the girl, Osamu’s wife agrees to take care of her after learning of the hardships she faces.

Although the family is poor, barely making enough money to survive through petty crime, they seem to live happily together until an unforeseen incident reveals hidden secrets, testing the bonds that unite them…
By Flora  12 Jul 2018
Filmmaker Kore-eda Hirokazu captures the essence of ‘a family’ through this gentle but heart-wrenching drama about the lower-class society living in Japan. 
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Living in a small and dilapidated house, a family of five including an old granny and a young boy enjoy instant noodles almost daily for most of their meals as money is tight for the family. They even resort to teaching their kids to steal from shops in order to obtain food supplies or to resell the stolen items for extra cash. On one of the cold winter nights, Osamu Shibata (Lily Franky), and his young son, Shota (Jyo Kairi) were out near their area when they stumbled across a little girl peering out from her balcony, freezing out in the cold. Osamu couldn’t bear to see the four-year-old, Yuri (Sasaki Miyu) suffer and carried her home to treat her to a hot meal. 

Initially, everyone in the family was against the idea of keeping little Yuri by their side, knowing that it’s considered kidnapping, and that means more money needed to feed another mouth in the family. But realising that her parents are not bothered about her disappearance and noticing the scars on her arm, Nobuyo (Ando Sakura) takes pity on Yuri and agrees to take her in as an unofficial adopted member of the family. Yuri grows closer to Shota, whom she sees as a caring older brother, and grandma Hatsue (veteran actress Kiki Kirin) who showers her with love like a mother. As the newest and youngest member of the family, everyone starts to care for her, more than Yuri’s actual parents would. But things take a turn when reports of a missing Juri(Yuri) spreads throughout the country. 

In an interview, Kore-eda shared that he was inspired by a real-life story that he heard from the news. His way of storytelling highlights the gritty realism of the poverty and the moral grounds of the people living through it. Despite their plight, it was never reflected that any of them wanted to give up their lives because of it. Instead, they strive to step out of poverty, or by slipping through the loopholes - such as Nobuyo stealing items found in pockets while working in a laundry-washing factory; older ‘sister’ Aki (Mayu Matsuoka) using her sexuality (or femininity) at a strip club where she ‘performs' to her client through a two-way mirror; and witty grandma Hatsue who constantly visits her ex-husband’s son’s family to pick up a token sum of money each time she’s there.

Soon, as one would expect, Yuri began to master the trick of shoplifting, often tagging along with Shota and Osamu - from stealing a little bait from a fishing shop to temporarily disabling the shop’s security entrance gate. At one point, the two younger ones were nearly caught by a shop owner, which resulted in Shota reevaluating about the ethical wrongdoings of shoplifting.  As a viewer, we understand that these crimes are highly frowned upon, especially when children are forced to commit these crimes; but with Kore-eda’s detailed characterisation of each character being fleshed out, we have come to sympathise with the family who is struggling with the dire lifestyle in Japan. 

Kore-eda has a knack for casting the right actors for his nuanced storytelling, especially his child actors Jyo Kairi and Sasaki Miyu, who possess the innocence of young children, as well as the maturity required in certain scenes. 

Filmmaker Kore-eda Hirokazu captures the essence of ‘a family’ through this gentle but heart-wrenching drama about the lower-class society living in Japan. 
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