An unlikely band of miscreants is scrutinised in Shoplifters, a return to form for director Hirokazu Koreeda after the minor misstep of 2017’s chilly police procedural The Third Murder. A deserving winner of this year’s Cannes Palme d’Or, it’s a delicately observed account of a ragtag household staving off poverty through unskilled labour and petty theft. Into their cramped home they welcome Juri (Miyu Sasaki), a taciturn young girl who appears to have fled an abusive family. But when Juri’s disappearance becomes national news, the thieves’ benevolent gesture begins to seem woefully reckless. Like Sean Baker’s sublime (and similarly child-centred) The Florida Project, this is a deeply humane portrait of marginalised people living in precarious circumstances. Lily Franky is riveting as flailing patriarch Osamu, a man haunted by his criminal past but lacking the wherewithal to make a clean start. And there are welcome jolts of wry humour, as the convoluted story of how his chosen family was assembled gradually becomes clear.

Shoplifters | Directey by Hirokazu Koreeda (Japan 2018) with Lily Franky, Sakura Ando. Starts December 27. 

Check our OV search engine for showtimes.