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#TIFF22 Review: Broker (Special Presentations)

September 9, 2022

By John Corrado

★★★½ (out of 4)

The 2022 Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 8th to 18th.

Broker, the latest family drama from Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda working in Korea for the first time, opens in the dead of night with new mother So-young (Lee Ji-eun) leaving her baby in a box for unwanted children at a church in Busan. Behind the box are Sang-hyun (Parasite‘s Song Kang-ho) and Dong-soo (Gang Dong-won), who go through the motions of deleting the surveillance footage and discarding a note from So-young saying she will return for her child, instead taking the baby boy for themselves.

Watching the scene unfold are two young detectives (Bae Doona and Lee Joo-young), who have been following them and are hoping to bring them in for child trafficking. We soon learn that Sang-hyun (Song Kang-ho) and Dong-soo are “brokers” who sell babies on the black market to parents who can’t have kids of their own, and when So-young does keep her promise and returns the next day, a deal is struck.

This opening does a good job of setting up the different characters in Kore-eda’s film, with the director intricately weaving them together over the course of the story. A mix of family drama and crime drama, Broker comes together thanks to the sensitive screenplay by Kore-eda, whose writing and direction remains highly empathetic as he makes us sympathize with these shades-of-grey characters and the decisions they make.

What emerges is a morally complex piece of social commentary with several beautifully written scenes that deliver piercing emotion, heightened by moving performances from the leads. Topped off with a lovely musical score by Jae Il Jung, Broker is a captivating and tender story about found family, the sacrifices parents make for their kids, and the lengths that people will go to to have children.

Public Screenings:

Thursday, September 13th – 5:30 PM at Royal Alexandra Theatre

Wednesday, September 14th – 8:30 PM at Royal Alexandra Theatre

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