“Broker,” a light-hearted film about child traffickers, stuns Cannes

estate agents will always be a tough sell after the heights of Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Palme d’Or winner shoplifters, because this much looser, less hard-hitting film explicitly retreads some of this film’s territory in a minor mode. So where shoplifters dealt with a newly assembled family of criminals who commit petty crimes to make ends meet, the South Koreans estate agents The focus is on a group of people who commit a crime (child trafficking) and build up a kind of family bond in the course of this crime. shoplifters‘ Strength was that its beautiful facade hid a world of pain; his characters were driven to the abyss by their misery, and family ties could not eventually bridge the distance between them. estate agents somehow flips that narrative by bringing devastated people together and suggesting that their vestigial kinship can be a salve for their grief. In this sense, estate agents occasionally lapses into a sentimental streak, which can detract from its substantial qualities.

The beginning of estate agents sees a distraught young woman, So-young (Lee Ji-eun, a South Korean pop star better known as IU), leaving her baby at a local church, which has a locker for unwanted babies. She is watched by two police officers who are investigating a fraud committed by two men within the organization. The men in question, Sang-hyun and Dong-soo (played by veteran Bong Joon-ho Song Kang-ho and touching Gang Dong-won) are impostors who steal one of a certain number of babies left behind in the hatch and resell it for a profit after discovering that most mothers who abandon their babies there never return to reclaim their child. Unfortunately, So-Young isn’t like other people (she’s wanted for murder, among other things), and after realizing her plan and realizing there’s money to be made, she asks to come along on her road trip with Art, the baby to potential ones buyers for sale. Along the way, they’re joined by a stowaway from an orphanage, whose cute presence (Kore-eda’s only major weakness as a filmmaker is his fondness for an adorable child) lends a slightly too whimsical vibe to this ragtag group. The group set off, followed by the two detectives.

This setup is absolutely juicy with opportunities, and Kore-eda makes good use of all of them. In particular, his pliable attitude towards family is evident throughout scenes where both Sang-hyun and Dong-soo pretend to be the baby’s father in front of various officials they meet along the way. A potential romance also seems to be brewing between Dong-soo and So-young. Kore-eda manages to display comedy and a humanity that seems to come out of nowhere, from that desperate premise – like when the cops try to ambush the gang by pairing them with actors pretending to be a couple be hoping to buy the baby: Dong-soo manages to thwart her by asking for details of her fertility treatment. The cops’ rehearsals with their hopeless actors are beautifully staged.

The tricky balance in estate agentsThat Kore-eda doesn’t always keep in check lies in the balance between this story’s gentle humanity (the growing affection between these characters and for the little baby in their care is sketched in a very complicated way) and the possible slipping into sentimentality or cloying quirks. A scene where the gang walks through a car wash and the cheeky boy opens a window and drenches everyone seems to exist for no other reason than to offer heartwarming feel-good factor. The score, too, made up of maudlin piano and gentle Spanish guitar arpeggios, becomes obvious and syrupy at times; a spectator can only take so much heat. in the shopliftersthe film’s acidity balances out these honeyed dimensions; estate agents has very little lemon to moderate its sweetness. That’s surprising, because the film is about child trafficking, sex work, murder, abandonment; and yet the fear, the pain, the misery caused by these things are not really encountered. It means that estate agents is too undifferentiated; that its tone sometimes overwhelms its purpose. A bittersweet finale after a false ending that seemed to bring about tragedy estate agentsfeels like Kore-eda is afraid of hurting us too much.

Kore-eda is an exceptional writer, and accordingly he assembles his team of misfits well; There’s something heart-soothing about a moment when two characters slow down and finally see each other beyond their first impression, like when So-young and Dong-soo really talk to each other in a ferris wheel and reveal some of their soul to each other after so much more hectic Activity; and Kore-eda also gives this road movie a romantic twist that drives it along nicely. It’s just a pity that he didn’t dare to twist the knife at the right moment, instead grazing us slightly with the blade. “Broker,” a light-hearted film about child traffickers, stuns Cannes


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