Broker

Japanese writer/director/editor Kore-eda has made a lot of movies about different types of families, from the wholesome to the broken to the makeshift. And so it goes with Broker, an agreeable but minor work whose only major distinction is that it's set in South Korea. Indeed, save for Kore-eda and one of his producers, the entire cast and crew is Korean.

The film's title refers to two smalltime crooks (Gang Don-won and Parasite star Song Kang-ho) who make a meager living stealing infants from "baby drops" (in which new mothers anonymously abandon their kids at churches) and then selling them to childless couples. In another film, these guys would be the lowest of the low: black marketers, kidnappers, human traffickers. But here they're a harmless if bumbling duo who justify their crimes as saving unwanted children from the orphanage life and finding them loving homes: Kore-eda doesn't suggest that these two dopes might have ever sold a baby to abusive or neglectful people.

What sets their latest scheme apart is that the birth mother (Kpop singer Lee Ji-eun) actually decides to go back for her baby after they kidnap it, and, after a series of contrivances, tracks the men down and decides to help them find a proper home for the kid. Adding further contrivance, a pair of women police officers (led by the always welcome Bae Doona) who happened to spot the young woman at the baby drop are also trying to track down the two "brokers".

This being a Kore-eda film, Broker isn't really a crime drama as much as it is a quiet tale of oddballs coming together to form their own family. But he mined this material to much better effect in his 2018 outing Shoplifters, and while there's nothing really wrong with Broker, it doesn't have anything new to offer besides a change of scenery.