Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda has found his creative sweet spot in stories that balance heartstring-tugging sentimentality with a bracingly acidic social conscience. It follows an impoverished extended family of petty thieves—including patriarch Osamu (Lily Franky), his wife Nobuyo (Sakura Andô) and young Shota (Jyo Kairi)—sharing a tiny Tokyo apartment, who see a young girl named Yuri (Miyu Sasaki) neglected on a neighbor’s porch, and decide to take her in. Kore-eda slowly reveals details about each of the family members, complicating the connections between these people while exploring the kind of harsh economic world that forces Nobuyo and a co-worker at a hotel laundry to decide which one of them will get laid off. Yes, he’s the kind of director who is more than willing to take advantage of the emotional pull provided by sad children, but he’s also wrestling with matters of conscience, and where we find the most genuine relationships in our lives. The twists of plot are all earned, built on understanding how desperately we all need someone who will actually care for us, in a world too often prepared to leave people out in the cold.
Director: Kore-Eda Hirokazu
Producer: Kaoru Matsuzaki and Hijiri Taguchi
Cast: Lily Franky, Sakura Andô, Mayu Matsuoka, Kirin Kiki, Jyo Kairi, Miyu Sasaki and Sôsuke Ikematsu