Thinking back, it’s been a while since I’ve watched a film that featured the exploits of a group of social outcasts who come together to form an unlikely and unconventional “family,” while paired with an infant. The original Hangover immediately comes to mind, along with Three Men and a Baby and all its sequels. I’m sure there’s many more out there, if I take the time to research the concept, but I’ll move onto this review.
Broker may not be a comedy, but it is a dark film that will get you sentimental about a human-trafficking crime family, which I recently watched.
Apparently, available in many countries, baby boxes are offered for anonymous adoption services. You can simply walk up to a window, drop off your child and walk away. I would never have imagined such a thing existed unless I actually saw it.
Writer-Director Hirokazu Kore-eda’s story begins as So-young (played by Lee Ji-eun) gives up her newborn child, although she leaves a note stating that she will soon return. When she does, she discovers little Woo-sung is missing. It seems that two church volunteers often kidnap unwanted babies and sell them on the black market to desperate couples willing to bypass the bureaucracy of legal adoption. While these brokers may be involved in human trafficking, the thieves believe they’re doing a service of benevolence to the affluent. Instead of unfortunate children living in an orphanage, they are given to a loving family (in exchange for a boatload of money).
When So-young confronts the pair, she surprises them by choosing to help find a good home for her baby. This unlikely “family” of criminals — along with a stowaway orphan boy — take a road trip searching for wealthy donors, unaware that gangsters and undercover officers are all hot on their tail.
“The rain washes away everything I was up to yesterday.”
This complicated story gets incredibly sentimental, which is not something you’d usually equate with a makeshift crime family kidnapping a baby. So-young’s backstory is tragic, highlighting a real problem in Asia. Adoption list black tape, fertility treatments and horrific orphanage experiences could haunt would-be parents, as well as hopeful children. The assembled ensemble does a great job experiencing these pains, bringing believable performances to the screen.
While there are some light-hearted moments sprinkled throughout, they don’t exactly border on zany antics. Filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda has created a heartwarming story where you actually care for these characters, hoping they can all somehow live happily ever after. But when reality bites that concept in half, everything falls apart during the conclusion.
These are broken people who are dealing with broken rules. Where’s the justice? In a coda, the storyline attempts to neatly wrap everything up, but its attempt is unsatisfying. It feels more than a little rushed. I was hoping for more delicate touches, which are apparent throughout the rest of the movie.
Don’t expect Broker to be this year’s Parasite throughout the current awards season, but it does star Song Kang-ho and deal with class struggles in its own way and deserves all the kudos it receives.