Broker Review: Song Kang-ho, Gang Dong-won & Lee Ji-Eun's slow-burn melancholic film acts like a ray of optimism amid grim situations
Cast: Song Kang-ho, Gang Dong-won, Lee Ji-Eun, Bae Doona, Lee Joo-young
Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda
Rating: 3.5 Moons
We've all heard the phrase, "it takes a village to raise a child". Have you ever given it a thought that if the phrase gets changed to "it takes a village to sell a child"? Exploring the journey of Dong-Soo (Gang Dong-won), Sang-Hyeon (Song Kang-ho) and So-young (Lee Ji-Eun) in Broker, Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda cooks a poignant and melancholic story on a slow-burning gas. The film competed for the Palme d'Or at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival.
Broker, through its melancholic approach, teaches the importance of saying, "Thanks for being born," to all those around you more often. It begins on a rainy night when Sang-hyeon and Dong-Soo steal a baby from a church's baby box. The mother of the child, who left him in the church box, discovers them and heads out on a journey with the men to find potential parents for the baby. However, the trail ain't easy. With a baby accompanying them, the three adults sign up for a life-changing experience over a period of time.
The world of Hirokazu Kore-eda's Broken is dark but real. The characters don't possess shades of white or black; they're beautifully and realistically grey. The 'brokers' Sang-hyeon and Dong-Soo, who can also be called messiahs by couples without children, are never overshadowed by the negativity of their profession. In fact, they are more human than most humans. Set on a heartwarming yet heartbreaking journey to identify the true definition of 'family', director Hirokazu Kore-eda blends an array of emotions in just 2 hours and 10 minutes.
Broker, while being a film revolving around human trafficking, leads to a point where the horizon of optimism and hope shines and makes a sharp definition. It comes across as a warm touch assuring everything will be set right in the end and all you have to do is trust the process and go with the flow. Multiple themes are explored and there's no way one could complain. At once, Broker gives you the feel of a heartwarming road trip and suddenly, you realise that it is nothing but a heartbreaking tale of absolute societal misfits.
Lee Ji-Eun, who plays the role of So-young, the mother of the child, gets one of the most complex yet endearing role. The insecurities of the character are reflected with a certain degree of elegance, grace and sternness. The emotional turmoil gaining momentum in her mind and heart can be felt through her body language. Gang Dong-won is charming as Dong-Soo. His scenes with Lee Ji-Eun are clear winners.
The scene-stealer of Broker has to be Song Kang-ho who plays Sang-Hyeon. Adding complexity, maturity and stability to the tale, he is a winner throughout. The film belongs to him and there isn't any doubt about it. Special mention to Im Seung-soo who impressed as Hae-jin.
Broker commands enough attention to understand what's happening on the screen. Periods of longer silences and inaction can put you off if you're not on the same page as Hirokazu Kore-eda. Yes, this isn't a film for all audiences, but for those who are fans of Korean cinema and slow-burn films, Broken is for you. As compared to the rest of the film, the climax feels rushed and convenient. Nevertheless, the film manages to serve its purpose.
Broker isn't your regular easy-to-understand drama. There are multiple layers that unapologetically demand attention. Despite being a slow-burn film, it leaves behind an impact with honest storytelling. Remember to say, "Thanks for being born," to those who love and care for you.
PeepingMoon gives Broken 3.5 Moons