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I’ve been a fan of Hirokazu Koreeda ever since having my heart broken open by his film Shoplifters, so my expectations were gigantic for his newest, Broker. Koreeda went solo on this film, managing both the screenplay and direction by himself.
The basic plot is: two men operate a black market adoption service by farming out babies after erasing video from a baby drop off location. They’re the proverbial Robinhoods of adoption since their intentions are mostly earnest. Like all criminal activity though, sooner or later, the jig’s up.
First, I have to say something about the absolutely gorgeous music by Jung Jae-il. The piano centered songs as well as the soft guitar led tunes were ‘killing me softly’ in a good way.
The ensemble of actors, all orphans and misfits individually, are tremendous in portraying this makeshift family. Song Kang-Ho won the Best Actor Award at Cannes for this very role and my only hope is that the Screen Actors Guild will award this group for best ensemble as they did for Parasite, where I dare say Song Kang-Ho was even better.
I had not seen Dong-won Gang before, but he is stunning as 30 something sidekick of Song who cleverly calls his partner out on his b.s. and charmingly falls for both Bae Doona and her baby. Ji-eun Lee is another actress I had not seen before, but noted she has won and been nominated for eight different Asian related tv and movie roles. Last is the gorgeous little boy (child) actor Im Seung-soo who makes you realize the innocence in children is what we all need to re-capture.
While I felt Shoplifters was more accessible, I did really enjoy Broker. As arm chair script doctor, I would have asked Koreeda to trim down some of the busy-ness of the script and landscape and expand on certain moments or relationships (the undercover cop and her husband’s back story for instance) so we as an audience see more of a through line. The moving moments were truly beautiful, the parallel monorail scenes and the ‘say something to your baby on the last night with him’, yet in between there seemed to be a little too much static.
Let’s face it, we all need to feel like we matter to someone in life. For those without close family ties, the importance of friends becomes magnified. Perhaps the static was on purpose since we are all searching for love in a technology filled compartmentalized world full of static and distractions.