Shoplifters ★★★★★

Maybe the best film of the year. (So far, anyway.)

Director Hirokazu Koreeda’s real accomplishment here is his alchemic mix of the sentimental and the steely. Shoplifters never shies away from depicting the precariousness of living on the fringes of society. This is a Tokyo we rarely see in film and shoplifting is only one of many questionable survival tactics used by the characters here.

But the film is also a wonderfully shaded portrait of a family that both affirms and interrogates what actually makes one in the first place. Audience allegiances are constantly challenged and the film frequently swerves between delight and tragedy, in rarely expected ways.

And its last quarter is a master class of the slow burn ending. A slowly unfolding mosaic that leaves one emotionally full. Devastatingly so. Don’t miss this one.