Meewella | Critic

According to P

Tag: Mayu Matsuoka

QuickView: Shoplifters (2018)

Shoplifters poster

“Sometimes it’s better to choose your own family.”

Nobuyo Shibata

Hirokazu Kore-eda’s quietly nuanced exploration of family reveals its layers gradually. Introducing its characters as petty thieves, one might expect a social commentary in the vein of Parasite. Instead, we learn that these are disparate strangers who formed their own family. The cluttered mise-en-scene of the small house they share speaks volumes. When they take in a neglected young girl, we see the counterpoint to the stereotypical abduction tale, with Yuri welcomed into a supportive — if morally dubious — household. Shoplifters‘ success hinges on the naturalistic central performances, from the adolescent beginning to question his family to the couple craving acceptance as parents. 75-year-old Kirin Kiki, who died the year Shoplifters was released, reveals both the bitter loneliness of an abandoned woman and the joy she finds in the company of her new family. Through a family constructed by choice rather than blood, we are able to examine the obligations implicit in those relationships and the boundaries of that loyalty when tested. These are wonderfully realised and memorable characters who will remain with the viewer, but it is the intangible strings that connect them which will leave lingering questions.


QuickView: A Silent Voice (2016)

A Silent Voice poster

“Back then, if we could have have heard each other’s voices, everything would have been so much better.”

Shouya Ishida

Kyoto Animation is known for producing animated series, making this feature-length adaptation of Yoshitoki Ōima’s manga an outlier. A Silent Voice presents a nuanced view of childhood interrelationships, differing perspectives and faltering attempts to communicate. The weightiest aspect is the destructive power of guilt, as Shouya falls into a self-imposed exile, ashamed at his childhood bullying of a deaf transfer student. Rekindling relationships with his old classmates reopens old wounds as well as offering a chance at redemption. As a studio of salaried animators — rather than freelancers paid by the frame — there is a wonderful attention to detail throughout. Subtle and beautiful, the gaps in conversation are filled by a delightful ambient soundtrack that elevates the production beyond most animated fare. A few days ago KyoAni was hit by a deadly arson attack, so I hope this review draws a little attention to the work of those who lost their lives and colleagues.


"A film is a petrified fountain of thought."

(CC) BY-NC 2003-2023 Priyan Meewella

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