• Golden Globe Awards

Broker (South Korea)

Acclaimed Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda has reached a turning point in international co-production after 2018’s Shoplifters received the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film, and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. In 2019, he cast the iconic French actresses Catherine Deneuve and Juliette Binoche, and prominent American actor Ethan Hawke to film Truth from an original screenplay.

His latest adventure is a film with Korean actors in a Korean production. The film, Broker, centers on two brokers (Song Kang-ho from Parasite, Gang Dong-won from Peninsula) who, in order to bypass the red tape of official adoption, sell orphaned babies to wealthy families who are unable to conceive children of their own. The mother of an infant (Lee Ji-eun, also known as IU, a globally popular singer making her big screen debut) unexpectedly returns to make sure her child has a suitable home. Then the three go out to locate the ideal adoption family and unintentionally create an unconventional family of their own. Meanwhile, a detective (Bae Doona from Cloud Atlas) is targeting brokers who act suspiciously.

Even if the production base has changed, the stories Kore-eda attempts to tell are consistent. What is the difference between a family without blood ties and a real family? This is a time-of-life question. The Japanese writer-director admitted during a press conference at the 75th Cannes Film Festival this year that three of his best internationally recognized films, Like Father, Like Son, Shoplifters, and Broker, constitute a film trilogy.

“In an interview for Like Father, Like Son, I was criticized by a friend when I said, ‘All women become mothers after giving birth to a child, but men have a hard time recognizing it.’” he said in Cannes. “I was very reflective when she pointed out that it is a prejudice to think that motherhood is something women are born with. This led me to develop two female characters, one played by Sakura Ando in Shoplifters, who is trying to become a mother even though she has not given birth, and the other played by Lee Ji-eun in Broker, who has given birth but has given up on becoming a mother. The three films are linearly connected in my mind.”

Broker brought Song the Best Actor award at the festival, the first Korean actor to win it. He is a regular in Bong Joon-ho’s films. Kore-eda, who met him at a film festival and swore to collaborate with him someday, remarked, “The more serious the motif, the more I want to express the inherent strangeness of human existence in the details. And Song Kang-ho is the best actor to express that.”