Broker Drama

Family of Castaways: A TIFF Review of ‘Broker’

September 21, 2022Ben MK

Globally, there are approximately 163 million children waiting to be adopted, a staggering statistic when you consider the fact that around 141 million babies are born every year. Of all those kids waiting to be welcomed into new families, however, only roughly a quarter of a million of them are actually lucky enough to find that desperately needed home. And in Broker, writer-director Hirozaku Kore-eda explores the topic, in this story of a couple of friends who run an illegal adoption service, and the young mother and her newborn they find themselves helping along the way.

Starring Parasite's Song Kang-ho, the film follows Sang-hyun (Song) and Dong-soo (Gang Dong-won), two men who work the night shift at the Busan Family Church, where their duties include keeping an eye on the church's baby box. Unbeknownst to the church's pastor and those that help run the on-site orphanage, the baby-brokering pair have been operating an underground adoption agency on the side. So when someone leaves a baby named Woo-sung in the baby box one rainy night, Sang-hyun and Dong-soo set out to do what they do best — find parents for the little one, while also making a little money for themselves. What they never expected, though, is for Woo-sung's mother, a prostitute named So-young (Lee Ji-eun), to pay them a visit the next day. What follows will change all of their lives forever, as this unlikely trio embark on a road trip to try to find Woo-sung deserving new parents. But could the family they're searching for already be right in front of them?

Throw in a pair of cops (Bae Doona and Lee Joo-young) out to arrest Sang-hyun and Dong-soo, as well as a gang of ruthless criminals out to kill So-young and take her baby, and the result has all the makings of a poignant drama with threads of a suspenseful mystery thriller woven throughout. More importantly, Broker is a tender reminder that family is more than just the bond of blood — it's what you make it. And when it comes to communicating this message to audiences, Hirozaku and company make it an easy moral to embrace.

Broker screens under the Special Presentations programme at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival. Its runtime is 2 hrs. 9 min.

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