Set in Busan, Broker begins as a young mother So-young (Lee Ji-eun) climbs the steps to a small church and approaches its ‘baby box’. Intending to abandon her infant child in anonymity, So-young places the child on the ground and leaves, promising to return some day. However, two men, Sang-hyun (Song Kang-ho) and Dong-soo (Gang Dong-won) witness this and, after making sure that no one is around, steal the baby with the intent of selling him. However, after So-young returns the following day, the men must partner with her in order to figure out the best possible life for her infant while making a profit in the process.
Directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda, Broker is a delightful mix of seriousness and humour in the midst of a darkened world. Focussing on the issue of baby boxes, Kore-eda establishes early the tragedies of the criminal underworld that take place in plain sight. Telling the story of two baby brokers who attempt to make their living by selling infants, the film highlights such cultural tragedies as child trafficking, prostitution, sexual abuse and abortion. However, without taking any of these heartbreaking topics too lightly, Kore-eda infuses the film with such heart and joy that the narrative never feels too bogged down by the darkness.
With this in mind, Broker is very much a film that wants to celebrate life rather than revel in the shadows of death. Despite the overwhelming darkness around them, each of these characters refuses to be consumed by it. Instead, they continue to fight for a glimmer of hope and, more specifically, a sense of belonging. By bringing together two child traffickers, a wayward mother, or and an orphan child, Kore-eda creates an unexpected family that seems genuinely excited to be together.
In this community, no one seems to fit and yet the pieces all come together.
Broker premiered at TIFF ’22. For more information, click here.