New from Kevin Wozniak on Kevflix: Movie Review: Broker

What makes a family? Do we choose our families, or do they choose us? These questions, along with several others, loom large in Broker, the latest from Japanese master Hirokazu Kore-eda.

On a stormy night, So-young (Ji-eun Lee) walks to a church to leave her baby in a box designated for abandoned babies. When the church gets an alert that a baby has been placed in the box, two men, Sang-hyeon (Song Kang-ho) and Dong-soo (Dong-won Gang), dressed as members of the church, take the baby and leave the church. They are brokers. They take abandoned babies and sell them to rich couples who cannot have a child for one reason or another.

So-young becomes stricken with guilt and wants her baby back. When she realizes her baby is not at the church, she is able to track down Sang-hyeon and Dong-soo and realizes what they are doing. Rather than bring the authorities into play, So-young decides to join Sang-hyeon and Dong-soo on their journey to sell the baby so that she can find the perfect family for her child. While it might seem personal to So-young, Sang-hyeon sees this only as a business and must sell this baby soon before the mob comes to get him for money that he owes them. But as they go on their trip to sell the baby, they start to bond and become closer together, something this group of abandoned loners has never felt before.

Meanwhile, a couple of police officers (Bae Doona, Lee Joo-young) are trying to catch Sang-hyeon and Dong-soo in the act of brokering while also trying to solve a murder that may have something to do with why So-young gave up her baby in the first place.

L to R: Ji-eun Lee, Dong-won Gang, and Song Kang-ho in Broker (Neon)
L to R: Ji-eun Lee, Dong-won Gang, and Song Kang-ho in Broker (Neon)

There is a lot going on in Broker but Kore-eda does an excellent job of balancing the plots, making sure each one is developed and that we never forget what is happening. Broker is a road movie, family drama, and police thriller all rolled into one film and loaded with emotion. Some moments you’re smiling at the sweetness of this family of misfits growing together, the next your heart is racing from the police and mob getting closer to Sang-hyeon. Then your heart is shattering from finding a new revelation. It’s masterful work from one of the best directors working today.

Much like Kore-eda’s 2018 Palme d’Or-winning Shoplifters, the events and characters of Broker live in a moral gray area. Kore-eda asks tough questions about the morality of these characters and the decisions they are making and never picks a side. He is too intelligent and too talented of a filmmaker to tell us exactly what to think and allows us to answer these moral quandaries for ourselves, which may differ depending on the viewer.

Broker is a heartfelt, beautiful story about the birth of an unexpected family. These people have been deserted by society and by other loved ones, yet their journey brings them closer together and allows them to start appreciating the importance of family and what it is like to be loved and wanted in a cruel world. Kore-eda takes his time to build this family, as we see them start off as essentially business associates and slowly become closer, learning to open up and grow closer together. Broker is full of beautiful, tender moments between our characters that will pull right on the heartstrings.






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