Review by Camden Ferrell
Hirokazu Kore-eda is a Japanese filmmaker who has been making movies for decades, even winning a Palme d’Or for 2018’s Shoplifters. His newest movie, Broker, is his first Korean movie and features a cast of acclaimed Korean actors and actresses. This movie had its premiere at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival where it won the Best Actor Award for Song Kang-ho. Like his previous movies, this film is a steady and emotional journey that will often tug at your heartstrings.
Sang-hyeon and Dong-soo work together on an illegal operation where they will steal babies from a church’s baby box and sell them to prospective parents. However, So-young is a yong woman who leaves her baby one night and returns shortly after. She learns of this whole operation and sets out on a journey with them to find the baby new parents. This is a very interesting premise that involves elements that I’ve never really seen talked about in movies.
Kore-eda’s writing is as reflective as always. He has an interesting way of taking multiple characters and letting their personalities and desires slowly unfold over the course of the movie, and this movie is no exception. It is quite subtle at developing its characters even when the dialogue can be a little too straightforward. There are some really interesting ideas and unique perspectives on common themes that allow this to stand out from an emotional standpoint.
The acting throughout this movie is also quite impressive. Led by the reliable Song Kang-ho, this cast of characters is as endearing as they are relatable. They’re all flawed individuals, but they bring such humanity to the story. Song is fantastic as Sang-hyeon, and Gang Dong-won does a great job co-starring as Sang-hyeon’s right hand man. Lee Ji-Eun also gives a troubled yet captivating performance as So-young, elegantly capturing the complex emotions that come with giving your child away.
Despite everything working in its favor, including the gorgeous cinematography, the movie still is far from perfect. This is mostly due to the different storylines that the film juggles which can sometimes be unbalanced and throw off the pacing of the final product. Its main storyline is fantastic and is firing on all cylinders, but the other elements that it shares screen time with don’t always pack the same emotional punch or plot progression.
Broker is a great film with great performances. Kore-eda’s first Korean film is captivating and incredibly emotional. It has his signature emotion and steady pace, and his ensemble plays extremely well off each other. Fans of Shoplifters are going to love his newest movie and the themes he explores quite well in the movie’s run time.
Broker is in theaters December 26.