The Taste Of Money
Glossy drama about the corrupting power of wealth from Im Sangsoo
If Jackie Collins ever decided to set one of her torrid tales in South Korea then it might look something like The Taste Of Money. Director Im Sangsoo has a considerable international reputation but his latest film is guilty pleasure viewing, serving up cliched characters and some shallow finger-wagging on the way wealth and power corrupts.
A loose sequel to his 2010 film The Housemaid, The Taste Of Money has the glossy sheen of a 1980s television soap opera like Dynasty as it wallows in the rather mild decadence of a rich elite. The naive outsider here is Joo Youngjak (Kim Kangwoo), private secretary to the wealthy Baek family. Patriarch Yoon (Baek Yunshik) uses him as an errand boy, delivering cash payments to officials, asking no questions and insisting on discretion. His chiselled good looks and gym-toned physique turn him into an object of desire for Yoon's daughter Nami (Kim Hyojin). He is gradually drawn into the family business, especially when Yoon grows bolder in his affair with maid Eva (Maui Taylor) leaving his embittered wife Keumok (Youn Yeojung) to draw up her battle lines and seek revenge by any means necessary.
Steamy sex and dodgy business dealings unfold in settings that are sleekly photographed by Kim Woohyung. Surface style is everything in The Taste Of Money, suggesting a world in which no amount of luxury or extravagance can mask the rancid smell of what lies beneath. It does make some token attempts to explore notions of loyalty and the rigid conventions of Korean society but the film is hard to take seriously whether as a modern Shakespearean tragedy or a morality tale. Im Sangsoo seems too much in love with what he seeks to condemn for The Taste Of Money to have real bite.
Limited release from Fri 25 Oct.