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Broker Movie Review

by rameshe

Critic’s Rating : 3.5 / 5

Broker Movie Review : A charming film despite its grim premise

Story: A young woman leaves her infant son near a ‘baby box’ for abandoned children with a note that she will return for him. Two traffickers pick up the child to sell him on the illegal adoption market and agree to cut her in on the spoils.

Review: The film’s premise, characters, subplots, and sequences make it a dark and desperate account of abandonment, helplessness, greed, and all things grim. However, director Hirokazu Kore-eda also deftly peppers his outing with subtle humour, charm and tender moments that come as a respite without upsetting the narrative’s vein. The foreboding undertone is palpable in every frame, either through the dialogue or the treatment, right from the beginning when Moon So-young (Lee Ji-eun) leaves her baby Woo-sung at a church. Two traffickers, Sang-hyeon (Song Kang Ho) and Dong-soo (Gang Dong-won), call themselves ‘cupids’ for uniting abandoned babies with couples unable to have children and unwilling to go through the long-drawn legal process. So-young emphatically calls them ‘brokers’ since they do it for a price.

The three main characters, So-young, Sang-hyeon, and Dong-soo, belong to the fringe of society, and each has a backstory steeped in loneliness. Abandonment is a common theme—So-young abandoning her baby, Dong-soo was raised in an orphanage after his mother left him, and Sang-hyeon owes money to loan sharks and is away from his wife and family. There’s also an eight-year-old football fan, Hae-jin (Im Seung-soo), from Dong-soo’s orphanage, who longs to be adopted.

At the story’s centre is a baby being ferried around the streets of South Korea to be sold to prospective parents. Many stakeholders are in this equation, including the baby’s father’s wife, who wants to raise him as her own. Two cops, Soo-jin (Bae Doona) and Detective Lee (Lee Joo-young), who want to take the illegal operation and the traffickers down, have a buddy-cop vibe going.

More than the events or the road trip in the movie, the spotlight is on the people, making this a curious character study where the audience knows that the protagonists’ conduct is questionable. However, you still cannot pass judgement on them because there’s a compelling argument to all their motives. You know selling babies is illegal and immoral, but Sang-hyeon and Dong-soo remind you they are better off in the loving care of a family than in the foster system. A good-hearted couple states they’d tell the baby that Moon So-young did not abandon but protected him from growing up as a prostitute’s son.

Lee Ji-eun is phenomenal as the young woman who wants to sell the baby and make money but wants to ensure he goes to a good family. While Song Kang Ho delivers a power-packed performance, Gang Dong-won is also outstanding. Im Seung-soo is delightful as the boy in overalls who gatecrashes their mission.

At 129 minutes, the film’s pace is languid, but it does not drag. There’s also a murder and mafia to keep things interesting. While realistic throughout, the movie’s ending is not too convincing.

Watch Broker because it resists the temptation of being overly sappy and saccharine sweet, which it could easily have, and for the stellar performances.

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