Film Review: Broker at Fylde Film Society

How do you create sympathy for characters who sell babies on the black market? That’s the central question at the heart of Broker.

Fylde Film Society continues on its mission to bring world cinema to our coast with South Korean drama Broker. Written and directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda, who people are most likely to know from his award-winning film Shoplifters, this movie tells the story of two men who illegally sell babies on the adoption black market.

Seems a grim premise when laid out like that without any context, but the film and its characters carry more benevolence then you might first expect. When Lee Ji-eun’s Moon So-young drops off her newborn baby at a local church’s baby box for unknown reasons, a worker and volunteer at that church (Gang Dong-won and Parasite’s Song Kang-ho) delete the CCTV and go on their own mission to find the child a family.

Right up front, it’s fair to say that Brokers is a slow moving film. A lot of the time this works in its favour as it allows the narrative to unfold organically – nothing is spoon fed to you or over-explained, so it’s left to you as the viewer to work out exactly what is going on, and what these characters’ motivations truly are. It also means that the film never feels rushed – the story is given room to breathe and you’re forced to really consider some extremely poignant moments throughout.

However, the slow pace does sometimes hurt the film – you are occasionally left wondering why Kore-eda is lingering in certain moments, or thinking the film has come to an end before starting up again. Not one to watch after a long day at work unless you’re suitably caffeinated up.

If Wes Anderson abandoned his pastel colours for something a little more grounded in reality, he would make a film that looked like Broker. 

On the subject of lingering within moments, though, the movie is very handsomely shot. Hong Kyung-pyo’s beautiful cinematography favours a static camera, and leads to making almost every frame like a work of art. If Wes Anderson abandoned his pastel colours for something a little more grounded in reality, he would make a film that looked like Broker. 

Jung Jae-il’s score mirrors the camera work in its beauty – opening with elegant piano pieces in moments of peace, before taking us on a journey to energetic guitar instrumentals and finally a discordant cacophony as the action hots up.

The film tackles a very difficult subject with a light touch, even finding time for much-needed moments of levity amongst the drama. It doesn’t pass judgement on the characters who are, from a certain point of view, doing despicable things. But as we learn more about them and why they are all doing what they’re doing, we do begin to warm to their plight. You might actually think Broker is quite heartwarming in parts.

Broker explores the complexities of families, and how we feel towards those we are supposed to love. As long as you’re prepared for a slow-moving ride, there is much to be gained from this delicate and emotional journey.

Fylde Film Society screens independent, arthouse and world cinema fortnightly at The Island Cinema, St Annes from September to June. It’s now in its 75th season, and screens on alternate Mondays. Membership is £35 for the half-season or £5 can be paid to see films individually on the night. For more information, visit the Fylde Film Society website.


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  • Mully is a writer and musician from Blackpool. Formerly an English Literature teacher, he is currently a copywriter, and enjoys movies, long walks on the beach, and clichéd lists.

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