Shoplifters

An unmitigated disaster virtually from beginning to end, Shoplifters follows a family of small-time crooks as they rescue an abused child from the streets and fold her into their less-than-savory operation. Filmmaker Hirokazu Koreeda has infused Shoplifters with precisely the sort of deliberate, slow-moving sensibility with which he’s become associated, and though it opens with a relatively promising opening stretch, the movie segues into a disastrously uneventful midsection that’s exacerbated by an almost uniform assortment of one-dimensional, underdeveloped characters (ie there’s ultimately nobody here to root for or sympathize with). The aggressively hands-off atmosphere is perpetuated by Koreeda’s uneventful (and annoyingly episodic) screenplay, as the writer/director delivers a plotless narrative that’s been suffused with one pointless, aggravatingly tedious sequence after another – which ensures that the comparatively frenetic third act, detailing the consequences of the aforemtnioned abused-child rescue, is hardly able to pack the sentimental and heartwrenching punch that Koreeda is obviously aiming for. It is, in the end, impossible not to wonder what Koreeda set out to accomplish with this meandering mess, as Shoplifters, by and large, comes off as a half-baked sketch of an idea that crawls along for the duration of its often interminable running time.

* out of ****

17 Comments

  1. Just saw Shoplifters, and could not concur with you more!

    • Absolutely astounding. This review permanently disqualifies the reviewer. It is truly amazing how much you’re not seeing.

      • Subtlety and art are lost on some. This “reviewer” wrote 4 long run-on sentences and couldn’t even give Kore-Eda the respect of spelling his name right. Disqualified indeed!

  2. this is the worst review i’ve had the displeasure of reading. David Nusair has zero credibility when it comes to reviews.

  3. Margaret O'Sullivn January 5, 2019 at 1:27 pm

    After reading your review I will be aware not to listen to your evaluations in the future. We saw the film last night and it was nothing short of excellent. Maybe you just like things with superheroes , etc.

  4. Not to mention that the whole “hey no one here is related” comes in as some final attempt at a shocking “I see dead people” moment, but it has the effect of complete confusion and an endless array of questions and holes within the plot for anyone not attempting to sentimentalize this whole idea of a poor Japanese pseudo-family finding love within each other and living a simple life (of crime). For example, why does Aki remain with the family after her grandma died? How did she go from living a life of luxury to one of abject poverty wherein she was willing to degrade herself doing peep shows? What is the grandma’s relationship to Osamu and Nabuyo? Who was that house-flipper guy who has tea with grandma in the beginning? Is that Aki’s dad? And is that grandma’s ex-husband, or his son who she is blackmailing? What happened with Nabuyo’s ex-husband that brought them together? Is the grandma somehow holding AKi for ransom? Or is that a Japanese obligation thing? What about these complications are necessary or even useful to further the plot or the motif of chosen family? I suppose one could argue that they all chose each other, but then the sentimentality all breaks down when they bury the grandma with cold-blooded remorselessness, and they get ready to ditch Shota in the hospital with no family to go to, reasoning “they’ll feed him.” He oculd’ve so much more easily had the whole family unit exist, then have adopted Juri, and had the movie move form there, and then we could’ve avoided a thousand unnecessary complications and nuanced every character far more.

    Also, the interview scene at the end was lazily scripted, (like most of the movie which used about half of the words in the screenplay talking about the weather), and bore not a single thread of realism. Why didn’t the mother say anything in defense of herself???? “Were you jealous of mothers who give birth?” “Maybe” *wipes tears for an hour.* What?! There is no logic to that other than the logic of “The Room:” “it is human behavior, sometimes people act crazy.”

    Also, I find it funny that every reviewer has to add this qualification to the film, “very quietly,” because there is less dialogue in it than a fishing trip between Dick Cheney and his dog. I remember no line or metaphor that truly stood out as fabulously written, although some scenes did do a good job pulling the heart strings because if they didn’t, then this movie would have completely failed. The tears Kore-eda bought were the cheapest ones I’ve ever sold. “If they loved you, they wouldn’t hit you, they would do this.” The scene if definitely emotional, but if I wasn’t busying my thoughts with Shota and was he kidnapped or did they do the same thing with him that they did with Juri? And why is having sex so weird for the couple? Alos, was that the same Aki in the picture at the suburban family’s home whom the grandma was swindling as the one living with them now? And when is all of this going to be relevant? If they had all simply been a poor family who stole stuff they needed and couldn’t afford, Kore-eda would’ve avoided confusing his audience.
    To me and to my girlfriend, who had just as many if not more confusions than I am sharing, it was like watching Pulp Fiction but only the scenes with Bruce Willis (Butch) in it, and the opening scene. Think about how fucking difficult that would be to comprehend.

    But, I could have been a complete fucking idiot watching that movie who has no ability to understand film, or simply a close-minded, anti-Japanese bigot who is being unnecessarily harsh to the guy who won the Palme d’or for this film I, some random guy complaining on some worthless film critic’s site about a movie everyone else seems to love that I did’t understand. So, please, if anyone is reading this, can you respond with answers to some of my questions to help me make some more sense of the movie? If it’s not riddled with plot holes and lazy writing, I would like to be the first to find out. Thank you all, goodnight.

  5. It’s wonderful that they let Dunning Kroger “film critics” pontificate like this. One must support those less gifted.

  6. This review is important, because it’s proof that David Nusair’s opinion can hereafter always be ignored when it comes to film. It’s one thing to disagree on a movie, another to entirely fail to understand the cinematic art form.

  7. Wow. This guy gave Welcome to Marwen 3 stars out of 4. How does that happen?

  8. I completely disagree with you

  9. 99 percent on Rottentomatoes and an Oscar nomination. One star. Lol

  10. “An unmitigated disaster virtually from beginning to end” just like life is. You are missing something.

  11. this is obviously a click bait review. some very low rung critics will do this from time to time to movies that are universally acclaimed to make a name for themselves. wonder if it works for this guy…

  12. What a douchebag !!! This movie was more smart than you.

  13. Did anyone cringe at how pretentious this reviewer is in trying to make “big words” to sound intelligent? Sounds like a total idiot.

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