nobody movie_’Broker’ Review: Trio trying to sell baby becomes unlikely family

As the issue of abortion captures the attention of Americans on the other side of the world, director Kore-eda Hirokazu (“Shoplifters”) focuses on the alternative for mothers who carry their pregnancies but cannot raise the children on their own. A heartfelt and unexpectedly unbiased look at the Korean gray market for adoption,”estate agents‘ was inspired by the idea of ​​’Babyluken’ – essentially a donation station for unwanted babies – and follows the director’s natural curiosity to its most humanistic end when audiences unexpectedly get to empathize with virtually everyone involved in the buying and selling from involved is a little bundle of joy.

What is the Japanese Kore-eda, who is shooting a film in South Korea, doing, you might ask? It’s not the first time he’s worked abroad. Luckily, Broker is less lengthy than the Oscar- and Palme d’Or-winning director’s previous feature film – the starry but stilted meta-film The Truth, which was filmed in Paris – and which brings Kore-eda back to the familiar topic of families , bound by blood or need, and the inexhaustible moral territory he finds there to explore. This project also allowed him to work with “Parasite” cinematographer Hong Kyung Pyo and the film’s star Song Kang Ho, whose good-natured personality makes it difficult to think too badly of the film’s eponymous trafficker, Sang-hyun.

Broker opens with an anonymous mother who abandons her child in a church-run nursery. Two policewomen (Doona Bae and Lee Joo Young) happen to be watching the place when the drop off is taking place, having already discovered that one of the church employees – Dong-soo (Gang Dong Won), himself an orphan – is stealing infants who have no contact information left behind and sells them to desperate parents.

For Dong-soo and Sang-hyun, it’s a victimless crime. In fact, they’ve actually managed to convince themselves that they’re the good guys and help children who would otherwise be stuck in the system find loving homes. (It is explained that if a mother leaves a note saying she is coming back to retrieve the child, they cannot be adopted. But only one in 40 such mothers ever returns and sentences the babies to life in an orphanage.)

Except that the mother of that child shows up a day later, which complicates the whole equation. But when she learns that baby brokers are expecting to collect 10 million won (about US$8,000) for her son, So-young (Lee Ji Eun) decides the money is more interesting than getting Baby Woo-sung back. Sang-hyun convinces her to come along, as such transactions are easier when the birth mother is around – and so begins the road trip that will change their lives all, with the two detectives in tow.

At this point, the film might sound a lot like a previous Palme d’Or winner, 2005’s The Child, in which a dead friend sells his girlfriend’s baby and spends the rest of the film trying to undo that bad decision. A social realist mini-masterpiece – the best of the Dardenne brothers – this film unfolds like a thriller for the highest stakes imaginable: what audience doesn’t worry about the fate of a child named like one potato being passed around between irresponsible parties? “Broker” is more of a melodrama, almost without tension. The film is not at all shy of its own sentimentality (although subtle enough to get away with), which is reinforced by composer Jung Jae Il’s rolling piano score.

Kore-eda is surprisingly generous to his characters, almost all of whom break the law but whose basic decency shines through when dealing with others in need. It eventually turns out that So-young is a prostitute who murdered her baby’s gangster father, but even this rather extreme development is quickly forgiven, and not just by Sang-hyun and Dong-soo (they take turns pretending in different situations to be her husband). but also by the cops, who offer her a chance for a reduced sentence.

As in Shoplifters, this small crime gang instinctively reconfigures themselves into a sort of surrogate family, complementing the bonds each of them seem to lack in their respective lives: So-Young lacks a father figure and Dong-soo has never known his parents while Sang-hyun lost contact with his own daughter. It’s not entirely convincing that they would bond so deeply (one suspects that Kore-eda views any group of three or more as a family), and yet, dramatically speaking, this development of their dynamic makes the task of Woo- sung more complicated.

Sometime along the way, a seven-year-old boy named Hae-jin escapes the orphanage and takes a ride in their run-down old van, giving all three of them a chance to act like adoptive parents — basically a dry run on their redemption. GSince at least 2004’s Nobody Knows (in which a 12-year-old must raise his younger siblings after their mother disappears), Kore-eda has been interested in how unlikely candidates face the challenge of parenthood. I suspect he’s the type of guy who can’t visit an animal shelter without bringing home a puppy since his characters only need to spend a few days with a baby to want one of their own. For another disposition, that would be time enough to renounce them altogether.

The subject of abortion comes up in several places, implying that killing a fetus is less cruel than putting it in the wrong hands. One of the cop’s first words in the film is, “Don’t have a baby if you abandon it.” Kore-eda is clearly interested in mothers – those who are capable of giving up a child as well as those who are so desperate want to adopt – and yet the experiences of these children are most important in the course of the film. How do you show a child who has been rejected by their parents that they belong in this world? With the words “Thank you for being born,” Kore-eda concludes, giving each of his characters a chance to hear this magnanimous mantra. It’s a nice note to close Broker, which has somewhat implausibly evolved from tightly focused crime thriller to gentle group hug.

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