Broker (2022): Korean films have recently received critical and commercial acclaim for their flawless execution of human dramas. Even Hirokazu Koreeda, a modern master of tackling human drama on screen, has found it difficult to sell a film about endearing brokers who sell babies for money. It is a difficult task to make the audience fall in love with these misfits’ antics, and Koreeda masterfully employs nuance over emotional manipulation.

Koreeda is a sorcerer of human emotion. Through tender, attentive observation and a fair dose of sentimentality, he makes us explore the themes of family formation, fluidity, and child adoption. He convinces us that the protagonists have noble intentions and makes us root for them till the end. Broker(2022) is a force of love, a heart-warming and heart-wrenching drama of a certain magnitude that is seldom reached world cinema since Bicycle Thieves. Koreeda is surely at his best at tugging our heartstrings since his Cannes-winning Shoplifters.

Broker (2022) Movie Synopsis & Plot Summary:

Broker is not a run-in-the-mill easy road trip-drama film about flawed people trying to find themselves. It is truly a heavy watch with deliberation and digressions hanging as loose threads. The movie takes inspiration from the real incidents surrounding the “baby box” phenomenon as So-young, a single mother, decides to leave her baby, Woo-sung outside of the “baby box” at a church. A detective finds the baby in the cold and puts it inside the “baby box.”

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Sang-Hyeon, a volunteer at the Church, ends up finding So-young’s baby, and with the help of his partner and worker at the Church, Dong-soo, he erases the CCTV footage of the baby. They find a note with the baby stating that his name is Woo-Sung and that his mother will return to get him. No contact or name is attached to the mother’s note, so the two men discard the message and take the baby.

So-young does return for Woo-Sung rather quickly. Sang-Hyeon and Dong-soo are brokers who sell abandoned babies to potential parents. They make her feel guilty for abandoning her child and tell her that by leaving a note behind, she would eradicate the chances of Woo-Sung being put up for adoption. So-young feels tempted to give up on the baby after knowing the large amount of money she can get if she decides to join them. This will also help Woo-Sung find a perfect home.

Simultaneously, detectives Lee and Soo-jin keep an eye on them to expose the black market for adoption. To succeed in the process, the trio now has to embark on the road trip bypassing bureaucracies and flaws of the adoption laws while also being closely monitored. They are joined by a kid named Hae-Jin, who has not been adopted yet, and they form an unlikely kinship during this life-altering journey.

The Confession and The Revelation:

The empathetic writing doesn’t hold itself back from making the character’s intentions prominent. The viewers care for all these flawed characters as we see the characters caring for the baby. The baby becomes a reason for all these people to bond over and heal. Sang-Hyeon and So-Young have their best intentions to find Woo-sung the right home. It becomes clear how they reacted with grave concern when Woo-Sung was down with a fever.

Throughout the film, So-young seems to be distancing herself from her baby. It turns out So-young murdered the baby’s father, and it is because there is also a murder case involved that the detectives must rush their investigation. The detectives persuade So-young to help them catch the brokers. Later So-young confesses to Sang-Hyeon and Dong-soo about having murdered the baby’s father and tells them to leave her behind because the dead man’s wife wants Woo-sung for herself, conveying that she used to be a prostitute.

In the Ferris wheel, Dong-so, who is supposedly in love with So-young, proposes to raise the baby with her, but she deems that impossible. So-young decides to turn herself in, learning she can be out in 3 years, and asks the detective to raise Woo-sung. Meanwhile, Sang-Hyeon wakes up in the middle of the night to secretly sell the baby to the thug; however, Dong-so intends to sacrifice himself by selling it to the empathetic couple so So-young can get her sentence reduced.

Dong-so is arrested for child trafficking, and Sang-Hyun kills the thug sent by the baby’s father’s widowed wife to tie up loose ends. He leaves the money, so it does not look like an intentional murder, thus protecting the baby and everyone in the process.

Broker (2022): Movie Ending, Explained & Theme Analyzed

Broker (2022) Movie Ending, Explained:

Three years have passed, and we see detective Lee writing to So-Young, who is now out of prison. We learn that she has taken care of Woo-sung as promised and hopes that So-young will return for Woo-sung someday to raise him herself. In the letter, she says she does not know where Sang-Hyun is, but she has been able to get in touch with Dong-Soo and Hae-jin. She invited all of them to meet at a particular spot to decide Woo-sung’s future. In the end, Hae-jin gets picked up in a car, and we see So-young has a picture of this new-found “family” hanging in her van. In the end, So-young can be seen running toward what seems to be her grown child.

Broker (2022) Movie Themes Analyzed:

Broker ends in a note of predictable and lucid humanism. Still, director Hirokazu Koreeda has left enough space for ambiguity. There are no easy answers to the child’s future, and the perception of the ending entirely depends on the viewer’s optimism. Broker can also be considered a movie with “pro-life propaganda” -a debate this film has already stirred up about the US Supreme Court’s revocation of abortion rights.

A dialogue did term abortion as the act of killing a baby before being born, and the movie does not necessarily propagate the idea. Rather it sympathizes with the helplessness of mother, baby, and adopted parents alike. The writing is nuanced and doesn’t take sides. In a scene towards the climax, all the characters express their gratitude for being born in the world, but one should not read into it as anti-abortion propaganda.

It surely tosses the idea that it might have been better if Woo-Sung wasn’t born. Though So-young’s character seems opposed to this thought, she understands that the situation demands Woo-Sung get adopted into a good family since she is not in the condition to take up all the responsibility. Though Woo-sung is fortunate enough to find himself in the hands of empaths, it can’t be denied that he is left with a fragmented and dated future.

The movie recognizes that such abandoned babies are doomed by birth. They are seen as a way to make easy money. No matter how endearing these flawed characters become in the course of the movie, it is undeniable that they are all criminals, and their actions of child trafficking can’t be excused based on their intention. The movie can be seen as confused with its messaging, but one thing is certain it strongly opposes the abandonment of newborns.

Finding kinship against the grain and making family outside of blood relationships is one of the strongest takeaways from the movie. Sang-Hyeon is the patriarchal figure who ensures a better future for the younger generation. Adversities bring them together- Sang-Hyeon, Dong-soo, So-young, Hae-jin, a child who always tags along with Sang-Hyeon because he was not adopted at the orphanage, and So-young’s baby enjoy a midsummer outing at the amusement park like any happy family would on their holiday.

In such moments the movie becomes escapist rather than becoming a hyper-realist sob-tale— a salvation fantasy where people idly lean on people and incapable humans miraculously save each other. Broker questions the concept of family as similar to Indian society. The normative concept of family in Korean society is blood-related relations.

Though the number of single-person households is increasing rapidly around the world, marriage, childbirth, and childcare systems are constantly being revised and changed. Korea isn’t an exception. Broker propagates a new social proposition that a new type of family is possible by breaking away from blood ties-it advocates for the dismantling of social norms and shows trust in humanity.

Broker (2022) Final Thoughts:

The ending is certainly open-ended and intriguing, and the director has left it up to the audience to paint the future of Woo-Sung and millions of other children like him. Since Broker is a story of broken, flawed people redeeming themselves, one can be optimistic enough to think So-young and Dong-soo raise Hae-jin together.

At the same time, Woo-sung finds himself a loving home through adoption, and all the characters, including So-young, will remain a part of his life. At least one can certainly hope for the characters to make the best of the second opportunity they get in life.

Read More: Every Hirokazu Koreeda Movie Ranked

Broker (2022) Trailer

Broker (2022) Links: IMDbRotten Tomatoes, Wikipedia
Broker (2022) Cast: Song Kang-ho, Dong-won Gang, Bae Doona
Where to watch Broker

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