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Movie Review: Broker

en Bollywood News Movie Review: Broker

Hirokazu Kore-eda is one of the most popular filmmakers from the Asian cinema industry. His work has been noted for carrying strains of melancholia, a slice of life, and an attempt to reflect the human psyche. The celebrated Japanese filmmaker has quite a few notable works to his credit namely Shoplifters, Still Walking, Like Father Like Son. He made his South Korean debut with the film Broker. The movie stars Song Kang Ho, Lee Ji Eun, Gang Dong Won, Bae Doona, and Lee Joo Kyoung in the lead roles. The movie was initially released in 2022 and went on to win accolades. The background score is given by Jung Jae Il who is also known for Squid Game (2021). It finally graced the Indian screens on January 20, 2022.

Movie Review: Broker

Broker starts with So Young (Lee Ji Eun) dropping off her baby Woo Sung outside a church. After she leaves, a detective named Soo Jin (Bae Doona) comes forward and puts the baby in the baby box. Dong Soo, who works at the church (Gang Dong Won) picks up the baby and takes it to Ha Sang Hyeon, who owns a laundry business (Song Kang Ho). So Young comes back a few days later looking for her baby at the church. Dong Soon informs her that he took the baby to put it on the adoption black market. Reluctantly so at first, So Young joins the duo to get her son adopted. A young boy named Hae Jin from Dong Soo’s orphanage also joins the trio on their journey. All this while, detectives Soo Jin (Bae Doona) and Lee (Lee Joo Kyoung) are hot on their heels to catch Sang Hyeon and Dong Soo red-handed in their crime. So Young worked as a sex worker and was on the run after having her client who was also Woo Sung’s father. Sang Hyeon has another plan on the cards and meets up with a gangster. The detectives collaborate with So Young and she eventually confesses her crime. She gets a short prison sentence in exchange for information regarding Sang Hyeon and Dong Soo. Dong Soo is caught with the baby but Sang Hyeon is also gone by then. Later we see that Sang Hyeon might have murdered the goon and left him on the subway. There is a short epilogue three years later where we see So Young working at a gas station and Detective Soo Jin and her husband raising Woo Sung now. Sang Hyeon’s whereabouts are still unknown.

Broker takes inspiration from the baby box system which is spread all over South Korea and also in Japan. One might see it as a Samaritan way of putting the child in proper care but the system is not without flaws. What Sang Hyeon and Dong Soo did with baby Woo Sung is quite the reality with several such abandoned babies. It also raises questions about morality, ethics, and parental love toward a baby. The title ‘Broker’ is also quite apt for the movie. The characters take their turns and assume the role of a broker in giving Woo Sung up for adoption. First, it is Sang Hyeon and Dong Soo are clearly working as middlemen, and then Woo Sung’s mother So Young also becomes a broker. She goes to the adoption meets and tries to get her son adopted. Even the two detectives are brokers in a way because they want to catch the duo red-handed and only Woo Sung’s adoption happening would lead them there.

Song Kang Ho, who won the Best Actor Award at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, displayed a stellar performance as Sang Hyeon. Running a laundry business and an adoption ring on the side, Sang Hyeon joins hands with the church employee Dong Soo, who is also an orphan himself. Soo Young on the other hand is a complicated character but once her story is unravelled, she presents the moral dilemma of being a mother and a criminal. When each of the characters says “Thank you for being born” to the other, there are a lot of unsaid words there. Children at the orphanage don’t always get the pleasure of meeting a good family. They have to live life on their own and face the hardships that life throws their way. There aren't many people around them to show them love and affection. Being thanked for taking birth might not seem like a grand gesture, but the simple line carries with it a deep emotion.

Kore-eda’s story might have just started at the baby box, but it leaves in its wake a lot to ponder over. The landscaping is quite ordinary as well. There is a rustic element to the storytelling that evokes strong emotions whenever a character makes a statement. There are no grand palaces or restaurants shown in the movie. Like a family surviving hand to mouth, the four travel in their battered van and stay in dingy places which are barely passable. There are financial struggles, filial struggles, and also run-ins with the mob which strip the story to its rawest form and present a much more vulnerable picture. Kore-eda employs alleyways, barren roads, and idyllic landscapes in his narration to underline the fact that such cases happen quite often and go more undetected than one can imagine.

For a society that values family and relationships, when it comes to adoption it turns into just another consumer who goes to the supermarket to shop for goods. Babies and young children are subject to scrutiny and judgment based on their looks and age even. Kore-eda’s piece does not give closure to all the characters, but it leaves a deep message for the viewers. It works as a mirror to the ongoing practice in this society and also works as a comment on the materialistic mindsets when it comes to adoption. There’s no grandeur or mighty expression of parental love. Kore-eda picks up on the minute nuances of raising a baby, and being a parent, and leaves space for the audience to think over.

On the whole, Broker features core family values and makes one contemplate. An emotional tale of adoption, baby boxes and a bunch of misfits, the Kore-eda directorial Broker is worth a shot.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Also Read: Cannes 2022 - Song Kang Ho becomes first South Korean male actor to win Best Actor Award; Park Chan Wook wins Best Director for Decision to Leave


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