Sang-hyeon is always struggling from debt, and Dong-soo works at a baby box facility. On a rainy night, they steal the baby Woo-sung, who was left in the baby box, to sell him at a good price. Meanwhile, detectives were watching, and they quietly track them down to capture the crucial evidence.
"Shoplifters," one of the best movies I've seen in recent years, led me to this film by the same director. "Broker" shares a lot in common with the other film, mostly in giving us another ragtag assortment of characters who ban together as a family in the absence of more traditional relatives. Both films are about family being defined by the people who support you in life, not necessarily those you share blood with. I liked "Broker," but not anywhere nearly as much as "Shoplifters." It's got a laid back road trip vibe, but it's also got a whole bunch of plot strands that don't completely get resolved satisfactorily. One in particular, about some gangsters after money owed them, feels especially unnecessary and even left me feeling a bit confused.
So not a home run, but there's still a lot in the movie to like and I would recommend it based on that.
Reviewed by JuguAbraham8 / 10
One of the two best Kore-eda films--the original screenplay is outstanding
The Third Murder and Broker are two of Kore-eda's films that make you admire his complex original screenplays. For the first time, the thin line between the good guys (here, the Korean cops, caring parents) and the bad guys (the brokers of all hues, the murderers, the bad son born into a good family getting close to thugs, bad wives, etc,) blur and almost disappear.
Reviewed by ObsessiveCinemaDisorder8 / 10
Affecting thought-provoking social drama with a great performance from Song Kang-Ho
Broker, the latest film from Shoplifters director Hirokazu Koreeda, is an affecting arthouse social drama and solid performances from its ensemble, led by Parasite's Song Kang-ho. The script, cleverly-written with a beating heart, opens up a well-rounded discussion about baby rights.
Sang-hyeon, a laundromat owner and his friend Dong-soo volunteer at a church with a baby box, which they use to conduct an illegal business of selling babies to rich families on the adoption black market.
So-young, a young mother who returns the next day after dropping her baby in the box, discovers their operation and decides to join them in finding the proper family for her child. As they set out on their road trip, two detectives are hot on their trail...
When the film started, I had never heard of a baby box before. I thought it was a fictional satirical premise, like Black Mirror. "A church has an open 24-hour box that lets people drop unwanted babies anonymously. Ha-ha. Gotcha." Hirokazu Koreeda's slice-of-life cinema vérité style then slowly sank in through these long ponderous shots, I realized these boxes actually exist.
Song Kang-ho, who nabbed the Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival this year for his performance, is naturalistic and precise. You cannot put a pin through it. Song plays the moment 100% with no species of "look at my acting" or chewing scenery.
In line with recent actors commenting on the overkill of method acting in the press, I love that the Cannes Film Festival rewards acting that doesn't seem like acting. I still consider them my Oscars.
As my first time seeing a Hirokazu Koreeda film, I was impressed by the precision behind his stylistic choices. Using multiple viewpoints from his characters, Hirokazu Koreeda's script fairly presents the moral dilemma of selling an orphan baby without ever being preachy or didactic.
Is it better to sell an orphan to a rich family or leave him for an orphanage? Should a baby box exist? Does the box save babies or just encourages people to abandon babies?
Koreeda takes no sides on the matter. He shows you a character's point of view, then pulls you out of it by presenting the counter argument and pulls you away again with a third and the process seems infinite. The brilliance is that the story dissects the issue to the point that there is no clear cut simple answer. It becomes completely grey.
Then Koreeda moves on and deconstructs "What makes a family a family?" Is it made by blood relation, marriage or coupling? Is it just everybody involved having the intention?
What I enjoyed about Broker was how he dealt with a heavy depressing subject with soft hands and presented its debate with optimism and heart. Hirokazu Koreeda believes in people and champions for the misfit; so much so his optimism glosses over the final resolution of the story in a "blink and you'll miss it" kind of way.
In the end, the journey was well worth it and Broker gave me a clarity of mind about baby rights that I continually thought about long afterwards.