The basis of Hirokazu Koreeda’s 2022 South Korean drama’s inevitable success is the Japanese director’s matter-of-fact understanding and acceptance of what the world needs to see whereas all the things round it falls aside. In its pursuit of extracting hope from the unlikeliest of circumstances, “Dealer” goes all out and makes use of each trope at its disposal for its singular purpose. When cynicism and the truth of the world round us get too heavy to bear, it’s movies like “Dealer” that put on a cape and supply a vital, temporary refuge. That being stated, Koreeda’s movie is questionable in additional methods than one. However its convoluted political angles, the movie will come as a breath of contemporary air for the various viewers if they’re in determined want of an uplifting expertise. Rustling up an sudden household of people that, in numerous methods, reside on the ignored fringe of society is how Koreeda designs his narrative of optimism. And he doesn’t thoughts leaning towards a melodramatic summoning of feelings to attain the identical.
Whereas that’s an inarguably comprehensible methodology of telling a narrative of hope, there must be a readability of stance in a story that chooses subjects as delicate as those that “Dealer” represents. One might argue that it’s as much as the viewers to resolve what they wish to derive from Koreeda’s story. It will also be stated that movies don’t owe solidarity to any specific agenda. Whereas neither argument is flawed per se, a movie undeniably ought to acknowledge its affect as essentially the most influential medium and be aware of what it’s speaking. “Dealer” leaves its ethical viewpoints up within the air and focuses solely on the story of forgiveness, love, and household. And whereas doing that, it additionally creates a risky whirlwind of opposing philosophies.
Sang-Hyeon and Dong-soo do God’s work by going out of their approach to make sure that the infants dropped off by the church’s “child field” discover loving mother and father. Their methodology of attaining the identical will not be very law-friendly, however from all that we study of the 2 within the length of the narrative, we’re sure that their hearts are in the best place. Estranged from his personal spouse and daughter, all Sang-Hyeon needs is for the infants to have a way of stability in life. Dong-soo, then again, is an individual who has spent his complete life in an orphanage and deems a extra conventional household unit to be a greater place for a child to be raised. Granted, we have now no technique of understanding how they used to conduct their trafficking enterprise earlier than Woo-Sung got here alongside, however sure whims of Sang-Hyeon do increase a query about their vetting course of. It may possibly’t be stated with certainty that they cared about what sort of individuals the infants have been going to. It is just after So-Younger’s revolt towards a pair insulting Woo-Sung that we get to see them rejecting a possible purchaser. Sang-Hyeon’s concept of faking fuller eyebrows to get the child bought additionally comes with the disagreeable realization that he could not care about how the couple will deal with the child as soon as they notice that they’ve been duped. Within the unhappy actuality of the world, being bought to any random couple offers an deserted baby a greater probability at having a good life than rising up in an orphanage. And in that actuality, taking an ethical excessive floor is simply a present of privilege. However even then, the blatant romanticization of Sang-Hyeon and Dong-soo as heroic characters maybe ought to have been averted for the sake of a extra impartial take that acknowledges the need of their enterprise however doesn’t negate its problematic points.
The theme of abandonment, which covers the most important a part of the narrative, will get to be handled with essentially the most nuanced method. It’s demonized proper off the bat when So-Younger drops her child off out within the chilly. Detective Soo-jin harbors no sympathy for a mom who can abandon her baby. Dong-soo additionally doesn’t take kindly to her terrible motion, not simply because it’s clearly a hideous factor to do but in addition as a result of he spent the whole thing of his life within the orphanage with the emotional baggage of being left by the gate by his mom. So-Younger does come again for Woo-Sung. However that may’t probably be thought-about an act of redemption when Woo-Sung could have really died within the chilly if it wasn’t for Soo-jin placing him within the field. Due to this fact, it does come off as a handy selection made for the sake of the narrative to abruptly assign motherly instincts to So-Younger when her child’s look is mocked by the primary couple. Additionally it is handy how Dong-soo decides to forgive her for abandoning her baby and, in a approach, needs to forgive his personal mom for doing the identical. Despite the fact that So-Younger herself doesn’t assume that she deserves forgiveness for endangering her baby, it appears compulsory for the movie’s theme of tolerance to take obnoxious liberties and, in a approach, justify abandonment with the argument of her dreadful circumstances.
And now, we flip our eyes to the elephant within the room. Is there anti-abortion propaganda in “Dealer”? Whereas the movie does tiptoe across the dialog and doesn’t take a agency stance, there are some fairly damning moments the place it speaks towards abortion. The occasion of So-Younger outright saying that she considers abortion to be a horrific sin is a type of moments the place the movie virtually confesses its problematic viewpoint. It might have been taken as a personality flaw that wasn’t essentially backed by the movie’s message if solely the narrative made it a degree to face firmly towards her regressive impression of abortion. As a substitute, we get to see a scene the place the characters are thanking each other for being born. Was that meant to be a celebration of life? It actually doesn’t come off as that. There’s quite a bit that “Dealer” leaves unanswered for the sake of being a lightweight, feel-good tackle hefty topics.