Eye For Film >> Movies >> Untold Scandal (2003) Film Review
Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson
This is a peculiar choice for the closing night at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, 2004. Admittedly, it was a last-minute thing. Wong Kar-wai's 2046 was withdrawn at the 11th hour but, given the generally high calibre - and universal appeal - of many of the other films on show, this really is a let down.
Les Liaisons Dangereuse has proved irresistible to filmmakers over the years, but this is one rehash too far. Rather than being an Untold Scandal, it is a scandal retold in such minutae that it is hard to imagine how two hours could pass so slowly. Can this be based on the same book as the pacy John Malkovich/Glenn Close picture?
Gone is most of the humour, replaced by layer upon layer of etiquette. And yet the transformation of a French novel about aristocratic ruthlessness to a Korean period setting, circa 1800, looks so lovely that I really wanted to like it.
Excellent acting from Lee Mi-sook as Lady Cho and Bae Yong-jun as Cho-won - a manipulative and sexually predative upper class pair of would-be lovers who delight in toying with the emotions of the less experienced youngsters around them for no reason other than revenge, or to eleviate boredom - is compelling. Also, there is an erotic frisson that has been absent from other adaptations, with a greater emphasis on the physical deflowering of various conquests.
The film lacks heart, although covers the ground adequately. If you've never seen another version and love costume drama, this is the one to see. If you have, you'll probably find it frustrating.Reviewed on: 29 Aug 2004