The central character in Broker, from Japanese writer-director Hirokazu Kore-eda, is a young mother who leaves her baby son in a church in Busan, South Korea, in a receptacle for abandoned babies.
So-young (Lee Ji-eun) is hopeful that her baby will be rescued by a loving couple who will give him a better start in life.
But the baby is retrieved by Sang-hyeon (Song Kang-ho), a Busan laundry proprietor in debt to loan sharks, who plans with his friend Dong-soo (Gang don-won) to sell the child on the adoption black market.
Their scheme is temporarily thwarted when So-young has a change of heart and returns to collect her baby.
Then she decides to join the baby traffickers in their hunt for a wealthy buyer. They set off together on the road to Seoul in Sang-hyeon’s battered van, together with an engaging young stowaway, Im Seuing-soo (Hae-jin).
Little do they know that two female detectives, played by Doona Bae and Lee Joo-young, are on their trail, hoping to catch them in the act of baby-trafficking.
Broker could have developed into a tense cops and robbers chase – but under Kore-eda’s direction it became a charming story with touches of comedy about underdogs doing their best to get by in an unforgiving world.
His acclaimed film Shoplifters featured a struggling family who became professional shoplifters with their own code of morality. By developing his characters’ back-stories, Kore-eda creates sympathy for the most unlikely villains.
The Broker narrative unfolds slowly and is at times difficult to follow, but overall it is an appealing and touching film.
Broker shows at UWA’s Somerville Auditorium from Monday, January 30 to Sunday, February 5.
Watch the trailer…