Broker ★★★★

Despite being far messier narrative-wise than usual (comparison to his debut Maborosi feels night and day) there's something so extremely compelling about Kore-eda even at his most commercial. Everyone and their mother has already used the phrase "empathy machine" with regard to his films (and probably film in general) but more than any other he finds the many out of the mundane, examinations of the just-outside-of-ordinary that aren't exceptional enough to be paid attention to but don't fit in with expectations of the day-to-day. Broker, while delving quite deeply into the spectacle with its almost-soapy sudden melodramatic revelations, settles into a steady questioning of the reality of bearing a child and the consequences one's decision about motherhood entail. What is typically a partisan issue becomes much more grounded and humane in his hands, and what imbalance in its presentation does exist feels as manifestation of the larger social gaze. Even messy Kore-eda exceeds most else.

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