[Review] The Taste of Money – 돈의 맛


There are times when I blindly approach a movie or drama without reading the premise first.  Sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised and other times not so much.  Here’s a case where I wanted to see Kim Kang Woo in something different after enjoying him in Haeundae Lovers.  Boy, was this different.

The story follows Secretary Joo Young Jak (Kim Kang Woo) as he works for the Yoon family and deals with immoral issues involving this rich, powerful family.  From the writer/director Im Sang Soo that brought us The Housemaid, The Taste of Money is considered a spiritual sequel.  As Im Sang Soo calls it, it’s “an extension of The Housemaid.  You can say that it’s the story of the children of The Housemaid who’ve grown up.”

Truth be told, I don’t typically seek movies out of this nature even just as a film study.  I find them unsettling and sometimes I’m a little bothered by the fact that films of this nature find acclaim in Western countries rather than its own country.  I didn’t even watch The Housemaid for that reason.

They’re not really moneymakers in the box office.  They’re arthouse films and I don’t have anything against them but when they unnerve me, don’t expect me to be a bowlful of kittens and sunshine afterwards.  I was trying to think of Western films that might result in a similar reaction and only two somewhat recent Oscar level films come to mind: Monster’s Ball and Little Children.  As a film, I only liked one of them.

That being said, this movie is graphic and not suited for young audiences.  The performances are real and dark and finely acted by a superb cast.  With actors like Baek Yoon Shik and Yoon Yeo Jung, you can always be confident that they will approach their characters without any hint of apprehension of the roles they will play.  Even Ohn Joo Wan and Kim Hyo Jin play their part well by representing that next generation of corruption and morality respectively.

However, I couldn’t help but be a little bored with the concept of money is the root of all evil.  From the first moment when President Yoon (Baek Yoon Shik) encourages Young Jak to take a bundle of money from the safe for himself, saying that everyone does it, to the moment when Young Jak is staring at the pile of money he’s taken with that mirror reflection his own corruptibility to the moment when the rain finally washes away his sins, it’s just a very trite progression to story and not even told in a visually fascinating way.

I would have probably have enjoyed The Housemaid better since it’s the first in this so-called spiritual series.  However, I’m not in favor of watching sensational movies just for the sake of watching sensational movies.  The depth of the moral undertone and visual stimulation makes sensation more worthwhile.  Here, it feels like the story just barely scrapes the surface to the point where a high schooler could probably grasp most of its themes and dark humor.  It’s not a terrible movie by any means.  I think it could have just used a graduated it’s level of character study considering the acclaim that preceded it.



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