In keeping up with some content across the Globe, I decided to watch and review the new South Korean film Broker which had premiered at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year. It is directed by the Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Koreeda, the great mind behind the stupendous Japanese film Shoplifters which I had absolutely adored! He is a master of exploring the dynamics of relationships, something which he had excelled in Shoplifters – a story about how a family comes together in trying conditions. And with Broker I was expecting nothing less. So then is Broker worth your time, stay tuned.
Story & Screenplay
Broker follows the story a young woman who decides to go on a road trip with the two “brokers” to find a good household for her baby whom she had left on the stairs of a church. The story is essentially a complex yet melancholic human tale of love and sacrifice. Its complexities lies in its character who are flawed yet find an unlikely “family” in each other. The screenplay standing at a shade over 2 hours may seem on the higher side but it is a trip definitely worth taking.
The drama trots about at a leisurely pace. You are introduced to all the main players early on. But the complexities of their personalities is beautifully portrayed as the drama moves forward. What seemed like an unjust profession of illegal child trafficking and adoption, soon transforms into something more than what meets the eye initially.
Each of the characters are broken souls in life, almost like scattered pieces of glass which now cannot fit in to the overall broken glass frame simply due to the choices made by them – some due to the circumstances as well. But in trying to fit in, they form an unlikely group which could transform into a familiar family of strangers. But sadly that is not the case.
Often we are quick to judge people who give up their babies by terming them as selfish. But the scenario did change here as the protagonist was willing to give up her baby for its better future and for it to lead a better life. It did come out of a place of love, a term which coukd also be synonynous to sacrifice. Each of the two Brokers have a past as well. One of them is a part of a broken family wherein he always longs for a family which he never had. Yet, his melancholic eyes give way for practicality and laughter. The other one has had a case similar to the baby as well where he was left behind by his mother but not as lucky in life. Another young kid who tags along with the group does await a similar fate as well. All this while the young woman is dealing with her own insecurities but is willing to open up to the group. This makes for a heartfelt yet compelling watch in a drama which slowly tugs the strings of your heart. And this drama comprises of people from every demographic – right from the little baby to a young kid to a woman in her 20s to a man in his 30s and another man in his 50s thus forming an interesting circle of life(with each one having a glimpse of their fate if they continue to be the person whom they are at the moment).
In another beautiful scene, the young woman tells each member of the group, “Thank You For Being Born” only while the lights are off wherein she does find comfort in the group but doesn’t wish to get attached to them only for her baby. In a twisted change of heart, the final act really moves you to bits. The drama has a melancholic streak to it right throughout which often results in moist eyes in a subtly moving screenplay about love, loss and sacrifice. And these human emotions are the reason, the drama lingers on long after the film is over.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The drama is primarily conversational with many beautiful yet poignant lines thrown in to the narrative which consistently keeps you invested. The BGM is sparingly used and the gentle tones really contribute to an immersive movie watching experience. The cinematography caotures the tonality of the drama beautifully. Director Hirokazu Koreeda has a sensitive eye to the portrayal of family and the characters which make the family. Here he does go a step further in exploring the dynamics where a complete set of strangers can also contribute to forming a family and it need not only be blood relationships. All the relationships in the film have beautifully portrayed this very in an immersive character study. And for this, the direction deserves distinction marks. Hirokazu Koreeda, Thank You For Being Born!
The performances comprise of such well etched out characters in a fascinating character study. Im Seung-Soo as the little Hae-jin just adds so much happiness to the drama in terms of his presence. His character showcases how black and white(read : simple) life is if you choose to look at it that way. Bae Doona as Soo-Jin and Lee Joo-young as Detective Lee both have done a splendid job. Gang Dong-won as Dong-soo has a beautiful trait of longing in a void which he has been unable to fill. And this sensitivity is beautifully portrayed by him. Lee Ji-eun as So-young has the most layered character who is suffering from her past yet wants a better future for her child. And this was a stellar act by a wonderful performer! Song Kang-ho has been one of my favourite actors who was splendid in Parasite amongst other films of his. Here as Sang-hyeon, his eyes do so much of the talking in a character who is the most experienced yet has gone through a lot in his life. He is just brilliant here.
Broker is a beautifully poignant yet melancholic portrayal of love, loss and sacrifice that lingers on long after the film has ended. Highly Highly Recommended from my end!