Broker is Kore-eda’s Anti-Manichean Masterpiece

Despite being completely snubbed at the 43rd Blue Dragon Film Awards, South Korea’s more popular film award ceremony, the Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Broker stood an excellent chance to snag a few categories at the 58th Grand Bell Awards—roughly the Korean equivalent to the Academy Awards. And it should have! It’s an excellent movie from one of the world’s most sentimental and thoughtful filmmakers: that’s exactly the sort of stuff that award committees East and West alike eat up.

A laundromat owner (Song Kang-ho as Sang-hyeon) and a church employee Dong-soo (Gang Dong-won as Dong-soo) run a side business in human trafficking. The two monitor the church’s baby box—a last resort for mothers unable or unwilling to raise a child to whom they’ve already given birth—and steal children when possible, nabbing them before the church orphanage gets their hands on them, and then sell them on the black market.

Well, sort of.