Shoplifter – A hidden corner of the deserted city
Fireworks, one thing right in the sky is fair to everyone, but there will still be a place that cannot be seen. A modern Japan with high-rise buildings or developed science and technology but there are still poor families somewhere, a small apartment sinking between high-rise buildings so much that they raise their heads to the maximum still cannot see fireworks shot at the river bank during the festival. They could only hear the sound of explosions in the distance. The Osamu family in “Shoplifter” is one of such families
The characters in “Shoplifter” are people who are abandoned by the society, to work in class to revive their lives. Main character Osamu works at a construction site but often “earns” by reselling items he steals from stores and supermarkets. Osamu also teaches Shota, the boy he bears, that: “The things in the store are not owned by anyone yet”, so they have the right to take them. Shota always believed that no one would suffer because that thing was lost so the boy stole it without any biting.
Osamu’s wife, Noboyu, works as a cleaner in the hotel and also steals items when given a chance. A young girl named Aki also lives with them in this family, she earns money by working for a porn service store. Grandmother Hatsue supports household expenses with her pension and occasionally earning extra money by delicately tipping the money of her second husband’s children.
The novel begins with the fact that on a cold winter night, Osamu and the boy Shota came home after a successful stealing mission and they met a four-year-old girl who was about to freeze on the balcony. He decided to bring her home without thinking too much about the consequences. The family has a new member and accordingly new events can break their connections. But also from here, this family faces other events.
Fireworks, one thing right in the sky is fair to everyone, …
but there will still be a place that cannot be seen
The story depicts the picture of the slums and the lives of people at the bottom of society without any pain or tears but joyful and warm. In that small house, no member has a private space. All live together in a small area including eating to sleeping. However, they are happy, every time they come home, there are dear faces waiting to enjoy a pot of noodles or a cheap rice cake to steal in the supermarket.
Hirokazu Koreeda has a gentle and sophisticated storytelling when creating a gentle and pure atmosphere, no matter how cruel the context is. In “Shoplifters”, it is hard to imagine in the middle of Japan, in a modern place of the 21st century with many hypermarkets, there is a house where members live temporarily and anciently with all kinds of inconveniences, inadequacies, how much money to spend, what food to eat. But most of all, they always cover each other in their own way.
“Six people raised their heads to look at the small space of the night sky in the direction of apartment buildings, like the dark ocean fishes looking up at the sun shining in the water”
Adapted from the same-name cinematic masterpiece has won many prestigious awards: The Golden Palm Festival at the 71st Cannes Film Festival, The Best Film of the 42nd Japan Academy Award. This novel has reached hundreds of thousands of readers in the country of Sunrise and has been translated in many countries.
— 1 —