Editor’s Notes: Venus Talk opens today in limited theatrical release.
From the very premise, Venus Talk reeks of derivative female-centric rom-coms centered on a trio of forty-plus women with obvious influences from Sex and the City. Sadly barring few moments, director Kwon Chil-in’s never seeks to explore the territories outside its influences and it ends up leaving an all too-familiar bitter taste in your mouth. There was considerable potential for Venus Talk to explore some of the gender issues unique to Korean society, which is squandered on largely caricaturish characters and borderline cartoon comedy.
From the very premise, Venus Talk reeks of derivative female-centric rom-coms centered on a trio of forty-plus women with obvious influences from Sex and the City.
Structured as a straight-forward narration that jumps between the lives of three forty-something Korean women and their attempts at balancing their adventures in satiating their voracious sexual appetites and maintaining control on their lives. Uhm Jung-hwa plays Shin-hye, a TV producer whose affair with her long-time boyfriend ends when he has a one-off with her secretary and gets her pregnant. Uhm plays the work-centric Shin-hye pretty well and her physical chemistry with her younger lover, Lee Jae-yoon is pretty sparking but the entire arc is largely middling, settling neatly in the overused rom-com territory of age differences, misunderstandings and too neat resolutions, robbing both the characters involved of any depth or consistency in their problems.
Moon So-ri’s Mi-yeon is a sex-obsessed housewife who keeps insisting on having sex with her docile husband inadvertently pushing him into Viagra and alternate therapies. This arc turns out to be one of the most cartoonish, all the humor falling mostly flat barring a pretty amusing scene where Mi-yeon tries traditional therapies to help her husband’s erectile dysfunction problems. Likewise, the emotions here ring hollow, the script avoiding exploring the unique territory of adultery being a punishable offense in Korea and going down a boring, clichéd route.
That leaves Jo-ri’s Hae-Young, a soft-hearted single mother involved with another widower who wishes to get rid of her over- demanding daughter. This is probably the only arc of Venus Talk where the characters behave consistently, the acting flips between mildly humorous and emotionally resonant and despite a few clichés thrown along the way, it manages to connect the audiences to its Hae-Young and the people involved in her life, something we can’t say for the other two.
Venus Talk also suffers from a segmented structure that keeps flipping back and forth between the three characters’ lives, not gathering the three leads together in one scene very often.
Venus Talk also suffers from a segmented structure that keeps flipping back and forth between the three characters’ lives, not gathering the three leads together in one scene very often. This is a downside because the dialogues and humor are much richer when all the three female leads are in one frame. Tonally, this structure also suffers as each of the three arcs range between somber romance, cartoonish rom-com and a variant of forbidden love.
Venus Talk also provides a fairly negative and possibly naive view of marriage in Korean society. Both the marriages in the film happen due to the women involved in them getting pregnant, in one case even resulting in breaking of a genuine, long-time relationship because of it.
Played by three female leads with a respectable acting pedigree, you would expect Venus Talk to score in that department but somehow the script holds their talent back preferring cheap, over-the-top acting over genuine acting. It’s also fairly inconsistent – with one character crying one moment and then chasing her cheating husband around a wooden bench like you would expect in a cartoon. Besides the leads, most of the side-characters are mostly fickle-minded caricatures inconsistent with what had been previously established by them.
[notification type=”star”]45/100 ~ BAD. Venus Talk neither explores the uniqueness of its Korean setting and the associated societal issues with it nor seems comfortable retreading Sex and the City clichés, ending up as nothing but a largely disappointing and underwhelming adapted clone.[/notification]