Money, power and subjugation, these are recurring themes in the cinema of Im Sang-Soo. With The Taste of Money, the Korean returns to the Competition two years after The Housemaid and explores cupidity, one of the great ills of the country, according to the director.
"Korean people, whether they are rich or poor, have become obsessed with money." From this premise, Im Sang-Soo imagines the story of Young-jak, the personal assistant to the woman director of a giant industrial corporation in Korea. Very quickly, the man becomes addicted to money, accepting the most shady and immoral demands of his boss.
Money and its influence are one facet of the work of Im Sang-Soo, in a painstaking reflection on relations of domination in Korean society. The Taste of Money is in a direct line of continuity with The Housemaid, an erotic thriller in Competition in 2010, which recounts the story of the extramarital relations between a rich man and his housemaid.
In The Taste of Money we find some of the same actors as in The Housemaid. To play the wealthy couple, Im Sang-Soo chose Youn Yuh-Jung and Baek Yoon-Sik, famous actors in Korean cinema. Stars of the young generation are also in the credits: Kim Kan-Woo plays the role of the secretary and Kim-Hyo Jin plays the couple's daughter, who is madly in love with the submissive employee.
"My creative approach resembles that of a troupe," explains Im Sang-Soo. "The group of actors I work with is composed of top notch artists, who are veritable artistic mentors to me."
The characters, which Im Sang-Soo wanted to resemble characters from Shakespeare or Balzac, are confronted with a dilemma. On the one hand, the fast track to a social ascent at the price of merciless submission, and on the other, the brave choice of love, to the detriment of all moral principles.
The film is screened Saturday 26 May at 12 noon and at 10 p.m. in the Grand Théâtre Lumière.