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Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Broker

A tale of leaving and finding

Kore-eda’s films are characterised by their subtlety and tactfulness in approaching complex themes. He is best known for his family dramas with intermittent forays into the world of crime and has a unique ability to create characters that are deeply flawed yet undeniably relatable.

Written by


Mar 26, 2023


In his first Korean production, Kore-eda again brings all this together. Three characters are at the centre here: So-young, who brings her baby to a so-called baby box in a church institution, a place respectively the possibility to anonymously give away unwanted children. Then there is Sang-hyun (played by Song Kang-ho) and Dong-soo, who, as a disguised employee of a church, steals these babies so that the two can sell them on the black market. Not exactly a beginning that makes for sympathy for the characters—though as said before, Kore-eda’s characters are deeply flawed, and that’s more true here than ever before.


“Over the years, Kore-eda seems to have become increasingly accessible to a wider audience.”

A road trip unfolds, in which Kore-eda fills the outlines of his characters with the conflicts and complexities that life brings with it. The viewer is increasingly confronted with fragments from their past—and again it is this fascinating authenticity and depth of his characters that underpin Kore-eda’s films.

Each of them is flawed, and yet it is these very imperfections that make them so relatable and human. Kore-eda shines a light on the human condition, the search for grounding and meaning in an uncertain world, and as so often, examines the burden of family, but also how they are constituted outside of blood relationship. Surfaces stubborn and resilient, the film goes on to expose the underlying vulnerability of its characters, culminating in scenes that are more sentimental than one is used to from Kore-eda, yet through its realist premise are nothing short with honest emotion and compassion.

Over the years, Kore-eda seems to have become increasingly accessible to a wider audience. Despite the bleak premise, it has a lovely and light-hearted comic quality. While not always as subtle as one would expect and wish from him, Broker is no compromise with which he would betray his artistry. There remains the elemental presence within the use of stillness as a way to evoke a sense of genuine emotional sincerity. Here, the acting is crucial. The whole cast around its star Song Kang-ho captivate here in their entirety. During a scene in a big wheel, the mother’s face is covered with a hand. It is such a compelling scene in which her covered eyes and the eruption of emotions are interplayed brilliantly. The spaces between the words become as important here as the words themselves, and Kore-eda has an understanding of how to use moments of stillness to heighten the expressive emotions that lie beneath.

Kore-eda once again proves himself a masterful observer of the human condition and their deep-seated relationships to each other. He is intensely devoted to the inner lives of his characters, exploring the complexity and contradictions of human emotions with a keen eye for small details. His characters are plagued by some dark horrors, but he never judges them or imposes his own moral views on us. Instead, he allows the characters to reveal themselves to the viewer through their actions and words—creating a space between melancholy and longing that reflects the universal human experience of love, loss and the search for meaning. Broker shows that even in our most vulnerable moments, there is beauty and grace to be found in the human experience and that our sentiments, however messy and confused, are worth exploring.

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