Two Hirokazu Kore-eda movies! In one year! What a gift to all of humanity, Shoplifters in particular, this humane but knotty and deeply complicated movie; good though The Third Murder may be, it simply isn’t Shoplifters, the best “family is what you make it” movie of 2018 (and “family is what you make it” is indeed a surprising sub-theme for the year) and one of best movies of 2018 point blank. It might even be Kore-eda’s best movie overall, though that’s a claim that requires more examination. He’s a great director. Always has been. Unless things take a real turn, he probably always will be, too.
Shoplifters does something quite tricky, namely presenting the audience with upfront sweetness and tempering it with darker undercurrents that don’t quite arise until the movie’s second half (its final third, more like); there’s a way to do this without making the emergence of the latter component feel like a twist, and Kore-eda’s way is to make it pretty clear from the outset that not everything in the movie’s as it seems. The results speak for themselves, which is to say they’ll leave you at least breathless.
You can read my full review over at Paste Magazine.