Shoplifters (2018)

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Runtime: 121 mins

Genre: Crime, Drama

Plot Summary

In Tokyo, a group lives in poverty: Osamu, a day laborer forced to leave his job after twisting his ankle; his wife Nobuyo, who works for an industrial laundry service; Aki, who works at a hostess club; Shota, a young boy; and Hatsue, an elderly woman who owns the home and supports the group with her deceased husband's pension.

 

Osamu and Shota routinely shoplift goods, using a system of hand signals to communicate. Osamu tells Shota it is fine to steal things that have not been sold, as they do not belong to anyone. One especially cold night, they see Yuri, a neighborhood girl they regularly observe locked out on an apartment balcony. They bring her to their home, intending to only have her stay for dinner, but choose not to return her after finding evidence of abuse.

 

Yuri bonds with her new family and is taught to shoplift by Osamu and Shota. Osamu urges Shota to see him as his father and Yuri as his sister, but Shota is reluctant to do so. The family learns on television that police are investigating Yuri's disappearance; the family cuts her hair, burns her old clothes, and gives her a new name: Lin.

 

Hatsue visits her husband's son from an affair, from whom she regularly receives money. The son and his wife are Aki's parents, who believe that their daughter is living in Australia. The family visits the beach and Hatsue expresses contentment that she will not die a lonely death. At home, she dies in her sleep. Osamu and Nobuyo bury her under the house and continue to collect her pension without reporting her death.

 

Osamu steals a purse from a car. Shota is uneasy, feeling this theft breaks their moral code. Shota recalls joining the family after Osamu and Nobuyo found him in a locked car. Increasingly guilt-ridden about teaching Yuri to steal, Shota interrupts her theft by stealing fruit from a grocery store in view of the staff. Cornered, he jumps from a bridge and breaks his leg.

 

Shota is hospitalized and detained. Osamu and Nobuyo attract the attention of the police and are caught after attempting to flee with Yuri and Aki. The authorities discover Yuri and the death of Hatsue and tell Shota that the family was going to abandon him. They inform Aki that Osamu and Nobuyo previously killed Nobuyo's abusive husband in a crime of passion and that Hatsue was receiving money from Aki's parents.

 

Nobuyo takes the blame for the crimes and is sentenced to prison. Shota is placed in an orphanage. Osamu and Shota visit Nobuyo in prison, and she gives Shota details of the car they found him in so he can search for his birth parents. Shota stays overnight with Osamu against the orphanage's rules. Osamu confirms that the family intended to abandon him and that he can no longer be his father. The next morning, as he is about to depart, Shota says that he allowed himself to be caught. Osamu chases Shota's bus out of desperation; Shota looks back and finally acknowledges Osamu as his father. Yuri is returned to her birth parents who continue to neglect her. On the balcony, she looks out over the street and her eyes widen at something she sees.

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