Set in South Korea where they apparently have things called baby drop
boxes, the said boxes being set up outside churches so mothers can drop off
their unwanted children. Director Hirokazu Kore-eda who won the Palme d’Or
at Cannes in 2018 for his critically acclaimed Shoplifters tries somewhat
unsuccessfully to turn such a not so cheery subject into a fun road movie.
Sang-hyun (Parasites Song Kang Ho) who runs a laundry shop and is saddled
with debt to local gangsters teams up with Dong-soo (GANG Dong Won) who
works in a local baby drop box facility. The pair then steal babies and
sell them on to rich couples. One night in the pouring rain, and just as
detectives Su-jin (Doona BAE) and her younger colleague Detective Lee (LEE
Joo Young) are staking out the baby drop, So-young (LEE Ji Eun) drops her
infant son off at the facility.
Having a change of heart and on returning to reclaim her child Sang-hyun
and Dong-soo tell her that she can make big money by selling her son. The
three then set off in Sang-hyun’s van to find a buyer for the child. The
three Brokers who are also joined on their journey by a young orphan from a
local orphanage who has hidden in the van. As they make their journey
across the country they are tailed by the two detectives who hope to catch
them in the act of selling the child.
Hirokazu Kore-eda makes the strange choice of having Sang-hyun and
Dong-sooas as a couple of loveable rogues rather than the child traffickers
that they actually are, Sang-hyun tries to justify his actions by saying
that by selling the child it’ll have a better life than it would have if it
was left at the orphanage. No matter how hard Kore-eda tries the pair never
manage to come across as anything other than the low life’s that they are.
The story is slow and barely gets out of first gear for the entire duration
of the movie. Side stories about gangsters tailing Sang-hyun for money he
owes them ultimately goes nowhere and the bizarre ending will have you
scratching your head in disbelief.
Some critics have raved about Brokers whilst others have been less than
impressed. There appears to be no middle ground when it comes to thoughts
about the film and for myself I’m afraid I’m in the latter category. The
acting is terrific across the board with LEE Ji Eun as the baby’s mother
being a standout it’s just a shame that the story wasn’t a bit more