Hirokazu Kore-eda directs Lily Franky, Sakura Ando and Maya Matsuoka in this drama about an extended family living hand to mouth and on the nick, who take in a bruised 5 year old left out on her parents’ balcony every night.
A very ingratiating humanist drama. There are seductive modern day echoes of Dickens, Oliver Twist in particular. A makeshift family grift and subsist together. Enviably close in practice yet the joins of the low level con team prove to be less predictable than you first assume. They have achieved a loving harmony in their poverty, one that their “kidnapped” new ward flourishes within. Life is better with stolen gluten cakes and fun on the beach than beatings and abandonment. When the second act closes on such a coddling high point (fireworks excitedly glimpsed from the slums) you wish we could just press pause and leave the inhabitants of Grandma’s bungalow in their simple happiness. Reality comes crashing in, we lose sweet emotions for a brutal comedown that is just as miserable as Loach, De Sica or The Dardennes at their most polemic. Powerful stuff about people living in the financial cracks of modern society but the romantic in me wishes we could have avoided realism. Why can’t the fairytale triumph occasionally?