It’s one of the master’s most transparent and — when it comes to confrontations about what parents, and specifically women, can or should do for themselves and for the babies they are forever bound to — brave films of his career.
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What are critics saying?
Much of this might have been formulaic in less artful hands, but Kore-eda has an unfaltering lightness of touch, a way of injecting emotional veracity and spontaneity into every moment.
Absorbing and heartwarming, it’s easy to forget that this tender drama is about human trafficking.
Broker keeps on getting funnier and knottier as secret motives are revealed, sympathies shift, mysteries deepen and dangers multiply. It is, on one level, a farcical crime caper, but it is so elegantly plotted that it never seems contrived.
The movie is fundamentally silly, with tiringly shallow characterisation and broad streaks of crime-drama intrigue, which only underline the fact that not a single word of it is really believable.
Kore-eda is surprisingly generous toward his characters, nearly all of whom are breaking the law, but whose fundamental decency is brought out when dealing with others in need.
The hackneyed thieves-with-a-heart-of-gold trope is reinvigorated by the sharpness of the writing and Song’s Basset Hound charms. While Broker occasionally gets close to cloying, especially in its neat ending and jaunty score, Koreeda keeps it the right side of cutesy. It’s best enjoyed as a modern-day fairy tale – only, one where the abandoned baby sparks nothing but enchantment.
Gentle, sad, and funny in a just-shy-of-cutesy way, Broker continues Kore-eda’s tradition of handling tough subject matter with a light touch.
As often with Kore-eda’s pictures, Broker is about family, but it extends beyond that theme to talk about fundamental aspects of life — the need to belong, the hope of connecting with likeminded souls, and the desire to find a place called home.
All his usual strengths fail him in a different culture here, perhaps because the veneer of venal cynicism that ought to be the film’s top layer is so easy to scratch through. Digging for the pathos hardly takes us long, especially with one of the director’s most cloying scores handing over a shovel.