Watch Broker

"Some leave. Some retrieve."
  • R
  • 2022
  • 2 hr 9 min
  • 7.1  (15,981)
  • 77

Broker is a 2022 South Korean drama film that delves into the socially relevant and emotionally charged subject of baby boxes. These boxes are a real-life phenomenon in various parts of the world, where parents who are unable to take care of their newborns can anonymously leave them in the care of others. Directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda, a filmmaker renowned for his intricate exploration of family dynamics and societal issues, the film marks his first foray into Korean cinema after having a prestigious career in Japan.

The story unfolds as two men, Sang-hyun (played by Song Kang-ho) and Dong-soo (played by Gang Dong-won), operate an illegal business using one of these baby boxes. Instead of simply passing the abandoned infants to an orphanage, they turn the unfortunate situation into an opportunity by creating a new kind of family for the children—their "brokering" service helps find new, loving homes for the babies. The catch, however, is that this service is not done purely out of the goodness of their hearts; it’s also a for-profit scheme.

In this morally ambiguous enterprise, Sang-hyun and Dong-soo's lives intersect with a myriad of other characters, each bringing their own complexities and emotional baggage. One such character is So-young (played by Bae Doona), a mother who makes the heartbreaking decision to leave her baby in the baby box, only to return later with a change of heart. Struggling with her own feelings of guilt and maternal attachment, she becomes involved with the brokers, all while grappling with the consequences of her choice.

The narrative, rich with Kore-eda's signature warmth and delicate handling of challenging themes, questions the very essence of what makes a family. Through their own unconventional methods, Sang-hyun and Dong-soo show the audience that familial bonds are not always determined by bloodlines but can be formed through shared experiences and mutual care. As they navigate the moral grey zones of their business, the brokers and their clients reveal deep-seated desires for connection and belonging.

Throughout the film, characters engage in a series of quiet, introspective moments, as well as more dynamic interactions that reveal their individual struggles with loneliness, societal judgment, and search for redemption. The beauty of Kore-eda's direction lies in the naturalistic performances he elicits from his actors, allowing moments of silence and subtlety to communicate as powerfully as dialogue. Song Kang-ho, in particular, gives a nuanced portrayal of Sang-hyun, infusing the character with humanity and a relatable sense of fallibility.

The cinematography in Broker is poignantly executed, often employing a gently observant style that captures the intimate moments between characters without intruding. This visual approach creates a sense of realism that allows viewers to empathize deeply with the cast of characters, regardless of the moral complexity of their actions.

Kore-eda’s interest in the everyday eliminates sensationalism from the film, choosing instead to focus on the relatable aspects of the character's lives. From sharing a simple meal to a quiet conversation during a long drive, these moments build the fabric of a shared human experience within the otherwise unconventional narrative.

Broker does not offer easy answers or present clear-cut heroes and villains. Instead, it resides in the realm of what it truly means to care for another person and explores the societal institutions that influence this care. The film confronts audiences with thought-provoking questions about legality versus morality, and the institutions that fail to support those in need, urging a reflection on the global issue of child abandonment and adoption.

Another layer of the movie is an exploration of the legal and ethical issues surrounding the brokering business that Sang-hyun and Dong-soo are running. The story hints at the bureaucratic and often impersonal nature of official adoption processes while also not shying away from highlighting the potential dangers and ethical concerns associated with their off-the-books operation. Characters are faced with the real-world consequences of their actions, whether it’s evading the law or dealing with the sentimental repercussions of their decisions.

As the film progresses, it weaves a complex moral tapestry, prompting audiences to navigate their feelings about the legitimacy of the characters' actions and the impact they have on the children and parents involved. Broker is a film that requires viewers to engage emotionally and intellectually, challenging them to think about the intricate dynamics of family creation and the societal structures that support and, sometimes, impede it.

In summary, Broker is a film that addresses a deeply sensitive and controversial topic in a manner that is humanistic and reflective. It does not patronize or offer clear-cut judgments but instead presents a story filled with empathy, conflict, and the quest for connection. Through understated storytelling and compelling performances, the film becomes an immersive exploration of the lengths to which individuals will go to forge a family, and the moral conundrums that can arise from the most well-meaning intentions.

Broker is a 2022 drama with a runtime of 2 hours and 9 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.1 and a MetaScore of 77.

Where to Watch Broker
Broker is available to watch free on Kanopy. It's also available to stream, download and buy on demand at Hulu, Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play and Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent Broker for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    2 hr 9 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.1  (15,981)
  • Metascore