The Taste of Money 돈의 맛 / 錢.慾.劫 (2012) – South Korea

Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA
Review Date: 27 August 2012
Released on DVD and reviewed as part of KOFFIA 2012

Hong Kong Box Office Taking: HK$187,454

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Veteran Yoon Yeo-jeong steals the show in Im Sang-soo’s daring film “The Taste of Money” about an intriguing social commentary and erotically charged drama on the rich, greed and money.

Its been a while, I have been able to just sit back and relax so much in a cinema and be at the edge of my seat at the same time. I know I am sounding rather ironic, but controversial film-maker Im Sang-soo does it again with “The Taste of Money”. A film about rich people and how they screw up just about anyone, including people who just want to be happy. It is a dark, yet ironic film that explores the social class that exists so prominently in Asia. In fact, “The Taste of Money” is so stylishly filmed, produced and shot that it is no surprise that it is a winner at the film market for distributors during the Cannes Film Festivals. What impressed me the most is that despite nearly two hours of running time and a relatively thin plot line, the film manages to hold up rather strongly and at times it is so engaging that the audience just want the film to keep going on and on, long after the credits rolled. In many ways, the film also contains numerous laughing spots, namely the shocking, yet “laugh out loud” scene which involves Yoon Yeo-jeong (an over 60 years old wife) and the young driver/house keeper (played by Kim Kang-woo).

As mentioned before, Yoon Yeo-jeong (“The Housemaid”) simply steals the show and the manner she is able to express all these eccentric moods and expressions is nothing short of wonderful to watch. Although she constantly overacts, but it never becomes a nusiance. In fact, Yoon is like a rock for the family and the film itself. Baek Yoon-sik (“Art of Fighting”) who plays the husband and president of the company, is most probably one of the most effortless actors around, his lay back and carefree approach, perfectly defines his character and is most probably the most human of the pack. Kim Kang-woo (“A Better Tomorrow”) as private secretary is given the most important role in the film, but is far too stoic to have any impact on the audience and the film. Kim’s character symbolise those trying hard to make a living within a dark and rich society. Although his comical expressions on his face when he is having sex with the 60 years old Yoon is almost priceless to watch. While he shares some underlying chemistry with co-star Kim Hyo-jin (who plays Yoon’s daughter), he lacks the depth that is required to make his character a convincing one. Kim Hyo-jin (“Everybody Has Secrets”), on the other hand delivers a much better overall performance, but lacks a recognisable face.

All in all, “The Taste of Money” is one of those films that you don’t exactly know whats going to happen next and there is a certain energy to the film that the director wants you to watch it from start to finish. The good thing about this film is that it never bores and there are plenty of laugh out loud moments. “The Taste of Money” is like a smart black comedy and not unlike Hong Kong’s Pang Ho Cheung style of filmmaking. However, the film missed an oportunity to dig deeper into its own darker issues, but despite this, “The Taste of Money” has all the hallmarks of a good film and in the world of carbon copies, Im Sang-soo gets extra marks for trying to go the route not taken, by being more daring and original. Definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, but for whatever reasons, I kind of liked it. A good film…(Neo 2012)

I rated it 8/10

“The Taste of Money” will also be showing at KOFFIA in Melbourne and Brisbane during September 2012.

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