“This film tells the story of a family which came together by choice. Each character had been rejected. They set off on a car journey, as if by accident. Each has committed offences. They all try for once in their life to do something good, to a greater or lesser degree,” said Kore-eda.
He was speaking at a standing room only press conference at the Cannes that veered between four languages and seemed to be filled with young film fans as much as journalists and camera crews.
“The more things are serious, the more I want to add a touch of humor. Song Kang-ho was the ideal actor for this film as he has these two sides in himself,” the director said, explaining the film’s style and presentation.
“I take this approach because I think it makes people pay attention more. If I’d made this film as a tragedy it might have been less convincing.” The fragmented structure, family theme and precise acting performances recall his “Shoplifters,” which won the Palme d’or at Cannes in 2018.
Questions inevitably turned to how and why a Japanese director chose to work in South Korea.
Kore-eda said there were few differences between a Korean and a Japanese director. “Kore-eda enjoys good food, cooking and eating well. That’s the main difference,” he said, speaking in translation and apparently in the third person.
Song described Kore-eda as “someone who likes challenges and responds to them.”
Joint male lead, Gang Dong-won said that Kore-eda was ever-present on set and meticulous.
Female lead, Lee Ji-eun said: “Kore-eda doesn’t speak the same language. Because of this language barrier we had to pay more attention, listen harder.”
“I’d been to Busan before, to the film festival. But I was always too busy eating great Korean food and so I had not explored the city that much before choosing the film location. We scouted widely and found a city of contrasts. It is very hilly and I enjoyed playing with the different levels,” said Kore-eda.
“Some time has to elapse to understand what being a father means,” said Kore-eda, responding to a question as to whether his three films “Like Father, Like Son,” “Shoplifters” and “Broker” constitute a film trilogy. “I had thought that it was easier to understand what it means to be a mother, but a friend of mine challenged that assumption. And I’ve regularly been reflecting on that since.”
“The police captain represents majority public opinion and speaks the first line in the film, suggesting that the woman should not have given birth if she was going to give up her child,” said Kore-eda. “The whole purpose of the two hours of the movie is to open people’s minds, not necessarily to change them.”