Review (Scott McCutcheon 19/02/23)

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 engaging.



2h 09m

Director: Hirkazu Koreeda
Cast: Song Kang Ho, Gang Dong Won, Lee Ji Eun, Doona Bae

UK Release: Cinemas 24th February 2023