Taste of Money, The

Original Title: 돈의 맛
Release date: May 17, 2012
Director: Im Sang-soo
Screenplay by: Im Sang-soo
Cast: Kim Kang-Woo, Yoon Yeo-Jung, Baek Yun-Shik, Kim Hyo-Jin, Maui Taylor, On Joo-Wan, Darcy Paquet

Have you ever watched those Telenovelas that center around the lives of rich people that sleep around with each other and backstab each other whenever they get the chance, all for the money? South Korean director Im Sang-soo’s The Taste of Money — kind of a follow-up to his remake of the 1960’s film The Housemaid — is sort of like that but on steroids.

The style in the film is lush, the amount of money they’re fighting for is unimaginable, there’s more sex, and all the stakes are a lot higher. It should be a delicious recipe, as we follow the Yoon family — a stem of the Baek family, headed by Geum-Ok (Yoon) the matriarch and heir of her father’s (Kwon Byeong-Kil), now stuck in a wheelchair, multimillionaire dealings. Mr. Baek is only taken care of by his malicious female goon Secretary No (Hwang Jung-Min) and the sexy maid Eva (Taylor), who has been having an affair with Mr. Yoon (Baek). However, Mr. Yoon has had enough of this life of dark contempt… or so he says.

Entangled in the middle of this corruption and all the scandals is servant Joo Young-Jak (Kim K.W), who has been vying for his time to rise up the social ladder… but at what price?

I’m just gonna go out there and say it, if you don’t like Telenovelas and their melodramatic love entanglements, you’re not going to like The Taste of Money — EVER. The film is a hyper-stylized version of a telenovela — there’s no way around it. It’s got some great acting, especially from actress Yoon Yeo-Jung and actor Baek Yun-Shik, who inconveniently swapped last names in the movie making it confusing to write about. However brilliant they may be, there’s also some awkward acting from Filipino actress Maui Taylor and Darcy Paquet, who happen to have the most unnatural scenes in English. That may be due to Im Sang-soo’s own directing, and it’s something that always seems to turn up in non-English movies with dialogue in English.

If you love to watch Telenovelas, and especially enjoy those that have matriarch women at the helm of all the dirty dealings, you might love this — and don’t forget to catch The Housemaid either. Yoon Yeo-Jung, as tiny as she seems to be, commands that screen with enough control and a certain vulnerability, especially when she finds out about her husband’s affair and Joo Young-Jak is there. I had to close my eyes because… I just couldn’t look at that. I felt the struggle Joo had to go through from the get-go…  that room filled with such an amount of money. The temptation has a price.

What took away from the film, for me at least, was that I didn’t get to know much about the relatively younger “kids” of the Yoon clan. I know the son, Yoon Chul (On) was kind of a crooked jerk who didn’t even care about his daughter, but considering how Nami (Kim H.J) seems to be a pivotal character in contrast to all these people, I wish I could have known more about her. The ending of the film also felt stretched out, and I would have maybe preferred it ended in the airplane… as funny as that scene was.

Overall, though, even if I wouldn’t recommend this to everyone — I’ve been thinking about it all day long, so maybe there’s something to it that has stuck within my subconscious.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

amy

YAM Magazine editor, web designer, and part-time blogger. Film junkie, music junkie… and lately series (a.k.a. TV) junkie.

10 Responses

  1. ghost says:

    I liked The Housemaid better than this one.

    • amy says:

      @ghost, I think I liked this one better than the remake of The Housemaid, even though I think The Housemaid had better cinematography and style.

  2. Adele says:

    Can you please tell me the meaning of Eva’s waking up inside the coffin when they got to the Philippines means? Is that just an illusion or something symbolic in the movie? Thanks.

    • amy says:

      @Adele, I actually had the same curiosity. If it’s an illusion, it can only mean that the director wanted to say something with it… and since I doubt Eva really woke up because faking her death (after such a long time and trip) it’s impossible…

      At the time, they were already in the Philippines and Nami was about to get her words out to tell Eva’s daughter about her passing. It began raining (was this during, before or after??). Eva gasped. They opened the coffin, she was dead.

      If it began raining after they told the daughter, it could be a metaphor of washing everything away. After all, Joo had put the money in her coffin, and money was at the center of all the tragedy. Eva dying was a result of the money being in the middle… her passing is moving on, and her gasping was a form of release? That’s all pure conjectures, though… I wonder what you thought?

      I really felt the sequence in the Philippines felt rather displaced.

      • Adele says:

        @amy,

        You are very right on that last comment. Plus I felt like the acting and the tagalog of the kind was very forced. I actually even thought for a while that she is not really a Filipino but of some other nationality (chinese perhaps, because of the accent?). I also felt the church scene was un-necessary, or not..hmmm…

        She did gasp when she saw the money so I think your “theory” there makes total sense, my friend.

        I just had a hard time understanding coz the version I saw carries a very poor sub. LOL

        • Adele says:

          @Adele,

          *kid

        • amy says:

          @Adele, interesting observation about her accent. Apparently Taylor is English/Filipino so maybe her accent comes from there. It seems to be a recurring issue with all movies when they don’t hire accent coaches. Since the director doesn’t speak Tagalog, they can’t tell and direct. Same issue when Asian directors do English-language films, or foreign languages in American productions.

  1. November 25, 2012

    […] Review: The Taste of Money (YAM […]

  2. August 12, 2013

    […] The Taste of Money (돈의맛) […]

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    […] Technically speaking, while Maps may lack the cinematic and lush qualities of the quite gorgeous The Taste of Money by Im Sang-soo, it becomes much more of an engaging (and I dare say, “fun”?) ride […]

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