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Twice in one week I've come to the end of a film and felt like I was being abandoned in a quagmire of anxiety and hopelessness. The other movie is Dogtooth, and this one is Shoplifters (Japanese: 万引き家族) (2018), a Japanese drama, written and directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda, starring Lily Franky, Sakura Ando, Mayu Matsuoka, Kairi Jō, Miyu Sasaki, and Kirin Kiki. Though not blood relatives, the characters (pictured) rely on shoplifting, pachinko, sex shows, and cons to cope with poverty, and on each other extremely so, but more than they realize till later. The story is beautiful, deeply sad, well-acted, and particularly thought-provoking. It takes you steadily in one direction and then wrenches you backwards, leaving you wanting somehow to melt into the picture and do whatever to help these people. Nominated for numerous awards, and with techniques used in other Japanese films, like Ozu's "pillow" and camera-straight-into-face shots, it's not a must-see Japanese film; it's a must-see film.


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