The Invisible Family

Francisco Dias*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review



Shoplifters is a 2018 feature film directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda. It is about a family with no blood ties living in a low-class neighbourhood in Tokyo who find a girl locked at a balcony in the cold day after day. Understanding that she is being mistreated by her parents, the Shibata family decide to take Yuri in. The audiovisual essay The Invisible Family analyses Shoplifters according to three key concepts of melodrama: House, family and society. Each one of them, introduced by a quotation, is composed of three diptychs with scenes from the film. The small and cluttered houses in Shoplifters constrict the characters and render their inner selves visible. As the Shibata fall apart throughout the film, their care and respect for each other grow deeper. Shoplifting and using others are unacceptable in society. However, these are carried out by the Shibata, because their income is not enough to provide for the family. It is, thus, urgent to improve work regulations, to provide more and better employment opportunities and to support families. All in all, the conflict emerges within the family, gathered in a house which suffocates them and pressured by a society which not only imposes rigid norms of respectability but also makes the weakest invisible.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-131
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Science and Technology of the Arts
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 30 Dec 2021


  • Audiovisual essay
  • Family
  • Hirokazu Kore-eda
  • House
  • Melodrama
  • Shoplifters
  • Society


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