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BROKER (2022, KOR) – 6/10

Probably Japan’s greatest living director, Hirokazu Koreeda, made perhaps the weakest film in his more than 30-year career in South Korea. Four years earlier, Koreeda was awarded the Palme d’Or in Cannes for “Shoplifters”, and at the same festival he also presented this somewhat bizarre combination of crime drama and road movie. As it is the turn of almost every film to be awarded some award, Koreeda received the recognition of the ecumenical jury, while the famous Korean actor Song Kang-ho, who became known to the whole world thanks to the role of his father in the masterpiece “Parasite”, won the award for the best actor .

Koreeda is an author known for his somewhat contemplative style, and he makes slow-paced films, mostly social dramas about the lower strata of Japanese society, so comparisons with the British Ken Loach are inevitable. After winning the Palme d’Or at Cannes, he made a mediocre “Truth” in France, now “The Broker” in South Korea and maybe it’s time to return home to Japan where he made much better films. He came up with the idea for “Broker” while researching the adoption system in Japan and South Korea and when he learned that there is something called “Baby Box” around the world.

Unlike Japan, this phenomenon is extremely popular in Korea, and it is a special type of box where mothers can anonymously leave their unwanted children. One such newborn will end up there, around which the whole story of this rather confusing, even rather failed film about child smugglers that Koreeda built to seem likeable, revolves around. Sang-Hyeon (Song Kang-ho) is the owner of a dry cleaner and a volunteer at the nearby church where his best friend Dong-soo (Gang Dong-won) works. The famous Baby Box is located within that church, and this duo also has an illegal business on the side. They occasionally steal a child left in a box, delete the surveillance camera footage, and then sell those same babies on adoptive the black market, since it is obviously quite complicated to adopt a child there.

But when the young mother So-young (Lee Ji-eun) changes her mind an hour later after leaving the child and decides to keep the child, she will discover the dirty work of the smuggling duo. Instead of reporting them to the police, she will go with them on a journey through South Korea in search of the ideal parents of her unwanted child, and two female detectives, Soo-jin (Bae Doona) and Lee (Lee Joo-young), will follow them on the journey. who have been following these smugglers for some time and want to catch them in the act. In addition to the female detectives, this team, which will be joined by an eight-year-old who escaped from the orphanage, will also be followed by some much more dangerous guys, because the young mother previously killed the guy who made her a son.

From the very beginning, this whole story seemed confusing to me, and until the very end I didn’t understand the fact that Koreeda tried to make likable guys out of the child smuggling team. This whole premise seemed to me somewhat naive and completely wrong, because although the adoption of children is apparently stifled by excessive bureaucracy in all parts of the world, who would normally buy a child on such a black market? Koreeda decided to deviate a bit from his standard narrative this time and failed because “Broker” is an unconvincing, illogical and failed film that could not be saved even by good acting performances.