“Shoplifters”: Kore-Eda’s Great Haiku of Family and Light

Hirokazu Kore-Eda Shoplifters has the economy and emotional power of a Haiku. Scenes run the exact length they need to be. There is not an extra syllable, an extra frame, an extra color or ray of light, no unneeded image, extra emotions, not a drop of overdrawn characters.

Shoplifters is a true masterpiece of precision and emotional compression. Scene after scene about this family of gentle thieves who find their own perfect bond and unity is filled with the duel moods of the greatest haikus— pain fused with love, solitude fused to the perfect unity.

The lack of metaphor, the clarity of its vision, the pull of its essential necessaries becomes its metaphors. Nothing this sparse and true, this achingly and lovingly rendered will be seen on film for a very long time.

This family may be an illusion to the dull, proletarian world who can’t transform that pain and sadness into the poetic fusion that makes Shoplifters devastation and elevation the great haiku of existence. Shoplifters gives us the world we all ache and hope to live in. Even if just a– brief day at a lovely beach— before the wind dies.

All photos courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

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