Story: Baek Geum-Ok (Yoon Yeo-jeong) is the trustee of an enormous capital that makes her family one of the wealthiest in Korea. Her husband
Yoon (Baek Yun-shik) has married her solely because of her money and lives at her side for a few decades already. Often enough she has overlooked his
adultery, but now he has an affair with the housemaid Eva (Maui Taylor) and it seems to be a serious matter this time. Meanwhile, the son of Baek, Cheol
(On Joo-wan), is in a legally difficult position, since he is attending illegal business, but this is nothing some money handed to the right person couldn't
get out of the way, eventually. Amidst these questionable business relationships and secrets around affairs employee Joo Yeong-jak (Kim Kang-woo) finds
himself trapped. He has to find out that he is one step away from being corrupted by the family's money as well. Yoon wants to escape his wife and the whole
falsehood of this familiy, but since Joo is working for Baek, he can't allow that to happen. At the same time Baek's daughter, Na-mi (Kim Hyo-jin),
casts an eye on the employee.
Review: Money can't buy you happiess, it even creates inner emptiness, corrupts and wipes off people's benevolence. We are all quite aware
of that, but only very few of us will ever have that much money for this to actually become one of our problems. It is different when it comes to the
family portrayed in "The Taste of Money", though. With wonderfully composed pictures director Lim Sang-soo draws a family full of interesting characters. Doing so
Lim does things with his very own pacing and sticks to very few movie rules. This makes the film inscrutable and thrilling, even the more as we are emotionally
relating to a few characters as things progress, at the same time, and at the latest towards the end, this also happens to be the biggest weakness of the movie.
Unfortunately, it is also at the end that we realize that the screenplay of "The Taste of Money" isn't thought through all the way. Even during the
introduction deals are closed which include billions being moved around, but there are no details, everything remains hardly comprehensible. The son
of the family constantly ends up in jail and is bailed out, then there is also a foreign businessman - played by Darcy Paquet, webmaster of the site
koreanfilm.org that is well known among film fans of Korea, and he cuts a fine figure! - who is in cahoots with him, but this is also a side story which
resolution is rather disappointing. Ultimately, the viewer is left with too many loose ends in his hands. You could argue that director Lim simply wanted
to present a small extract of the life of a super rich family, but even then at least the ending remains extremely alienating.
In fact this is even getting to the point that I would recommend not to watch the last five minutes of the movie. Because that way you would have a less
tainted ending. Finally, because of the ending, you have to ask yourself what the movie actually aims at. It seems what we have here is a clear case
of presumed profoundness. Not all that glitters is gold and the same applies to "The Taste of Money" as well as the family that stands in the focus. The
film's message is by far not that profound as the director wants to make us believe, eventually things revolve around the power of money which everyone has
to succumb to. Especially South Korea is a country, which has quite a few corrupt politicians, and everything seems to solely center around earning as
much money as possible. A true dog-eat-dog society. But is anything new said by that?
The exception proves the rule. The husband, once again played magnificently by Baek Yun-shik ("Save the Green Planet"), falls in love with his housemaid and realizes what's really important in life. The daughter of the family for most part, and strangely enough, seems to be immune to the appeal of money and therefore, next to the main character, can be considered one of the few individuals you can actually relate to. Then there is also the housemaid Eva, who is likeable at all times and more than anything else wants to see her children in the Philippines taken care of. It is difficult to deduce whether she is really in love with Yoon as well or not. The actual main character is the employee, played by Kim Kang-woo ("A Better Tomorrow"), who always executes the tasks given to him loyally and thus even doesn't fight back when being raped. An interesting scene... But at some point he, too, has to find himself in a moral conflict, naturally.
As it should be with a movie centering around money sex is also playing an important part and every now and then there are some short esthetically appealing sex scenes to be seen, but the movie is adequately reserved in that respect. A big plus of the drama is the acting, more than anything else that of Yoon Yeo-jeong as the calculating and scheming boss of the family empire. Furthermore, the pictures are wonderful to look at. Technically, there is nothing to criticize anywhere. However, despite some very interesting individuals the screenplay proves to be too unfocused and also more shallow than expected. Accordingly, "The Taste of Money" isn't the masterpiece that it maybe could have been.