BBFC Classification: 15
Director: Sang-soo Im
Starring: Yun-shik Baek, Hyo-jin Kim, Kang-woo Kim, Darcy Paquet
The Taste of Money is a South Korean erotic drama directed by Im Sang-soo (The Housemaid) and is about the power that a wealthy conglomerate-owning family wields and how that power corrupts not only their business deals but also their private lives. Most of the goings-on are seen through the eyes of one of their employees named Joo Young-Jak (Kang-woo Kim), who is privy to knowledge of the father’s affair with one of the female servants but is also the target of affection from his boss’s daughter, not to mention being used by the matriarchal figure for sex once she learns of her husband’s extra marital activities. And those are just some of the things that are going on behind the closed doors of their family home.
The Taste of Money is impeccably shot and has some truly enchanting camera work that gives the film a quality feel but the overall story is really an episode of Dallas stretched out to 110 minutes, albeit an episode without any of the dramatics that drive a TV soap opera into making you want to watch it. There’s too much padding between confrontations to keep any momentum going, to the point where you almost forget why somebody is doing what they’re doing to somebody else as their original argument was two or three scenes ago and there has been a lot of conversations with other characters since then. Also, the acting isn’t that great when it comes to conveying any sort of sense of the dramatic; there’s a fight scene that is nothing short of pathetic and any scene involving Korean film expert and so-called actor Darcy Paquet is particularly painful to get through.
When stripped down to its basics it is a decent enough film, albeit one with a very familiar (i.e. unoriginal) story that’s told in a painstakingly slow fashion. There are a fair few sex scenes peppered throughout to remind you that this is a film involving adultery, although given the nature of the infidelities they come across as more comical than titillating but their inclusion at least lifts the narrative above soap opera status. As far as Korean cinema goes The Taste of Money feels different from most, as if Im Sang-soo is looking beyond the confines of what has gone before and is using his eye for an effective visual to help tell the story – and that is to be commended – but the different feel doesn’t wield any surprises in terms of the narrative and the film is ultimately quite boring because of it.
Special Features: Theatrical trailer.
UK Release Date: 6th January 2014