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The Taste Of Money Review

The Taste Of Money

Director: Sang-soo Im.

Starring: Kang-woo Kim, Yun-shik Baek, Hyo-jin Kim, Yeo-jung Yoon.

Certificate: 15.

Running Time: 115 minutes.

Synopsis: Young-jak Joo (Kang-woo Kim) is hired as a dogsbody for an insanely wealthy South Korean corporate-crime family. When the cold and calculating matriarch finds her husband cheating, she forces her new gofer to have sex with her, leading him deeper into the family’s entangled web of deceit and corruption.

Selected for the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, THE TASTE OF MONEY is a melodramatic thriller within the same thematic vein as Sang-soo’s 2010 effort, THE HOUSEMAID, which is based on the 1960 film of the same name. Indeed, Sang-soo himself calls it “an extension of THE HOUSEMAID. You can say that it’s the story of the children of the housemaid who’ve grown up.” His apparently immense feelings of distrust towards the rich, or at least the mega rich, are not left unaired in what is a candidly sordid tale.

The themes of greed, deception, debauchery and immorality going hand in hand with money is not a new concept by any means. Not only does Sang-soo examine them in his previous efforts, but they have been touched upon numerous times in a variety of ways, from the likes of TRADING PLACES to WALL STREET. But, in its defence, THE TASTE OF MONEY does it in a scintillating way. Abrupt and unforgiving in its storytelling, it seduces with its boldness and does enough to maintain an interest in watching this bunch of downright horribly selfish characters. Don’t expect any sentimental attachment, except possibly with Young-jak Joo and Na-mi Yoon (Hyo-jin Kim), as the rest of the characters are persistently detestable.

Special mention is reserved for Yeo-jung Yoon who portrays the impossibly evil matriarch of the family. Having excelled in the role of a loyal housemaid in Sang-soo’s previous effort, she pulls off a distinctly indelible performance here too, in what is quite the role reversal.

Consistently slick, polished direction complements the simmering tensions of the dialogue and plot, which are expertly paced. Although it could be argued the plot is a little slow at times, it needs to build the suspense in this methodical way, because while the climax is satisfying to a certain extent, the message derived from the conclusion is a little underwhelming; it would be far more so had the intricate groundwork not been laid with careful precision.

THE TASTE OF MONEY is provocative, exciting and aesthetically pleasing in terms of its rich cinematography, but the sentiment behind it is by no means groundbreaking. However, Sang-soo approaches it in a unique and intriguing way to create an interesting tale populated by three-dimensional, if abhorrent, characters.

Four Out Of Five StarsTHE TASTE OF MONEY is released in UK cinemas on Friday 25th October.

Martin has been a film buff (or geek, if you prefer) for as long as he can remember. However, he lives and longs for storytelling of all kinds, and writes across numerous mediums to feed his insatiable appetite. He lives in north-west London, and his favourite films are, possibly: PAN'S LABYRINTH, THEY LIVE, PSYCHO, HIGH FIDELITY, ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST, STAND BY ME, SIDEWAYS and OFFICE SPACE.

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