Somehow the word “broker” does not easily connect with “infant” in my mind. However, filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda‘s latest movie, Broker, puts the notion of essentially “selling” babies into a context that is at once deeply philosophical, beautiful and charming. It is also uplifting and hopeful. Despite differences in culture and language, the film is involving. Who gets to live, this asks. What kind of life? Broker is opening in New York and Los Angeles in theaters, and audiences will be treated to powerful acting and beautiful filming and a story to think about and talk about.
It has been five years since winning the Palme d’Or for Shoplifters, and now Academy Award nominated filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda returns with Broker, starring Cannes Best actor winner Song Kang Ho (Parasite). This film follows two brokers who sell orphaned infants, circumventing the bureaucracy of legal adoption, to affluent couples who can’t have children of their own. After an infant’s mother surprises the duo by returning to ensure her child finds a good home, the three embark on a journey to find the right couple, building an unlikely family of their own. In the end, the adoptee is unexpected.
While preparing this film BROKER, I was able to hear their stories.
They had grown up in orphanages, their parents having given up raising them for various reasons.
There were some kids among them who asked themselves, “Was it really a good thing for me to be
born?”, and couldn’t give any definite answer to this most fundamental question about life.
Hearing that, there was nothing more I could say.
What is the use of repeating easy words of solace?
Could I really declare to them that there is no one on Earth who didn’t deserve to be born?
For the sake of these kids, who must stubbornly live their lives fighting against the inner and outer voices that say you should never have been born, what kind of film can I offer?
In the making of this work, that question always stood at the center.
BROKER is a film in which I attempted to look directly at life, and stepped into the characters in order to
speak directly with my own voice.
It’s a film that resembles a prayer, or a fervent wish.
– Kore-eda Hirokazu
Interview with Hirokazu Kore-eda:
Q) What was the starting point for BROKER?
A) From the time I was shooting LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON, I began developing a strong interest in matters such as ‘baby hatch’ and ‘adoption.’ I think my interest was strengthened by the fact that my child was born around that time. In Japan, I became familiar with the topic of ‘baby hatch’ through a book and later even had an opportunity to take part in an in-depth program covering this subject. During my own research I learned that a similar thing called ‘baby box’ existed in Korea, and that it was more frequently used and considered a topic of social discussion compared to Japan. Around that time I was talking to SONG Kang Ho, GANG Dong Won, and Doona BAE on whether we should get together for a film in Korea. With them, I thought it would be possible to turn this motif that I have strong interest in into a film. So in the fall of 2016, I wrote a 4-5 page simple plot synopsis titled CRADLE with these three cast members in my mind. That’s how I began with BROKER.
Q) During the shoot, were there any problems communicating with the actors and crew in a different language?
A) There can be trouble communicating even among people who speak the same language. Even when I work in Japan, that often happens. The important thing is to think about how you can overcome it. In
that sense, to be in the same space and to see that this cut came out well, or that acting came out really well, to overcome language in this way was an extremely pleasant experience.
Q) What kind of film do you hope BROKER becomes to its audience?
A) I think it’s entirely up to the audience how they view this film. However I can say with assurance that
every actor who appears in this film, including the baby, was truly remarkable. It’s a film where you can
feel joy from the performances. I hope that people watching the film enjoy that aspect of it as much as
Photos are courtesy of the film, “Broker”.