The Scent 간기남 간통을 기다리는 남자
Contemporary crime comedy-drama
2012, colour, 2.35:1, 117 mins
Directed by Kim Hyoung-jun (김형준)
By Derek Elley
Fri, 24 August 2012, 09:30 AM (HKT)
High-risk mix of comedy and crime noir boasts a strong script and performances. Asian and genre events.
Seoul, the present day. For the past two years, while on suspension for adultery with a police chief's wife, detective Gang Seon-u (Park Hui-sun), has been running a private-eye agency specialising in adultery cases. He's also being sued for divorce by his wife, Hye-yeong (Cha Su-yeon). A couple of days before resuming his old job, Seon-u accepts a case from a woman, Kim Su-jin (Yun Jae), who wears a particularly alluring perfume. She says her husband, casino billionaire Nam Yeong-gil (Jo Won-hui), is conducting an affaire with another woman at a love-hotel in Gapyung, Gyeonggi province, outside Seoul. Seon-u checks into an adjoining room in the unmanned hotel and is met there by Su-jin. Instead of immediately suprising the lovers, Su-jin invites Seon-u to a drink and seduces him. Seon-u wakes up next to her dead body, and in the next room finds the husband also dead. The woman there says her name is also Kim Su-jin (Park Shi-yeon) and the dead man is her husband. Along with his idiot assistant, ex-con Gi-pung (Lee Gwang-su), Seon-u cleans the crime scenes and buries the bodies, realising he's been framed for the double murder. Resuming his job at Jonggu Police Station, Seon-u investigates the case along with two colleagues - the stubbornly procedural Seo (Kim Jeong-tae), who dislikes him, and the easy-going Han Gil-ro (Ju Sang-uk), who admires him. Seon-u has noticed that Su-jin wears the same perfume as her dead namesake, and she admits she wanted a divorce from her husband, who used to beat her. Seon-u questions the dead Su-jin's boyfriend, gym trainer Lee Jin-guk (Kim Yun-seong), but the trail leads nowhere. As the terrier-like Seo comes up with more evidence that could eventually implicate Seon-u in the murders, Seon-u finds himself falling hard for Su-jin and on a deadline to solve the mystery.
A smart mixture of drama, comedy and the erotic, The Scent 간기남 간통을 기다리는 남자 finds writer-director KIM Hyoung-jun 김형준 hitting his stride after an interesting but not fully realised debut with police procedural No Mercy 용서는 없다 (2010). Like that previous movie, which focused on a respected forensic pathologist's fall from grace as he compromises his ethics to save his daughter, The Scent also centres on a flawed character, here a police detective who finds himself investigating a double murder he's been secretly framed for. This time round, though, Kim's approach is totally different, stirring a lot of comedy into the film-noir riff and establishing a femme-fatale character who may or may not be orchestrating the whole plot.
Even spread over almost two hours, the film maintains interest — thanks to acute scoring by Yuta 유타 that smoothly elides the constant shifts in mood, a well-worked script lead-written by HWANG Seong-gu 황성구 (Sad Movie 새드무비 (2005), crime drama S.I.U. 특・수・본 (2011)) that cleverly interweaves all the characters and satisfyingly resolves all the plot strands, and last but not least a strong performance by PARK Hui-sun 박희순 | 朴熙順 as the embattled maverick cop.
Also a theatre actor, Park, who played the soccer coach in A Barefoot Dream 맨발의 꿈 (2010) and the ruthless public prosecutor in The Client 의뢰인 (2011), is a versatile player who's little known outside South Korea and has rarely got the right roles he deserves. Without his confident performance, which manages to embrace all the tonal shifts as well as make a sleazy main character likeable, The Scent would hardly work. He's supported by a colourful supporting cast and strikes the necessary sparks with co-lead PARK Shi-yeon 박시연 | 朴時妍 (Dachimawa Lee 다찌마와 리 − 악인이여 지옥행 급행열차를 타라 (2008), Marine Boy 마린보이 (2008)). Mostly known for TV drama, she underplays the noirish femme fatale to good effect, as well as doing her own brief nude scenes (still a rarity in South Korean cinema). Almost as strong, in a well-written role as the detective's wife who still wants to believe he's innocent, is CHA Su-yeon 차수연 | 車垂妍 (so good in Beautiful 아름답다 (2007)), who grows throughout the movie in a subtle way. The only grating performance comes from LEE Gwang-su 이광수 | 李光洙, as the detective's idiot assistant, though it's more a miscalculation by the writers than by the actor himself.
As part of the film's intention not to be just a super-slick, moody noir, photography by versatile d.p. CHOI Yeong-taek 최영택, who's worked with everyone from HONG Sang-soo 홍상수 | 洪常秀 to LEE Chang-dong 이창동 | 李滄東, as well as on genre pictures (Volcano High 화산고 (2001), Death Bell 2: Bloody Camp 고死 두번째 이야기 : 교생실습 (2010)) swings from shadowy interiors and night scenes (as in the crime hotel) to plainly lit sequences (the police station), depending on the mood of the moment. Overall, The Scent is a high-risk gamble that pretty much comes off.
ContactSales: Showbox, Seoul (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Theatrical release: South Korea, 11 Apr 2012.
Presented by Trophy Entertainment (SK), in association with Showbox/Mediaplex, Asia Culture Technology Investment, Sovik Venture Capital, Novus Mediacorp, KTH, SBI Investment Flow6. Produced by Trophy Entertainment (SK), The Dream Pictures (SK). Executive producer: Choi Jun-yeong. Producer: Sunny Baek.
Script: Hwang Seong-gu. Adaptation: Kim Hyoung-jun, Lee Seong, Kim Jin-hwan. Original story: Gu Mu-mo. Photography: Choi Yeong-taek. Editing: Kim Seon-min. Music: Yuta. Production design: Hong Seung-jin. Costume design: An Ji-hyeon. Sound: Kim Ki-hwan, Lee Seung-yeop. Action: Ju Yeong-min, Lee Geon-mun. Special effects: Jeong Do-wan, Yu Yeong-il. Visual effects: Digital Studio 2L.
Cast: Park Hui-sun (Gang Seon-u), Park Shi-yeon (Kim Su-jin), Ju Sang-uk (Detective Han Gil-ro), Kim Jeong-tae (Detective Seo), Lee han-wi (Section Chief Sa), Lee Gwang-su (Gi-pung, Seon-u's assistant), Cha Su-yeon (Hye-yeong, Seon-u's wife), Kim Yun-seong (Lee Jin-guk, the gym trainer), Yun Jae (the other Kim Soo-jin), Jo Won-hui (Nam Yeong-gil), Kim Gyeong-ryong (Yangpyeong neighbourhood association president), Jeong Hyeong-seok (chief inspector at tribunal), Shin Hyeon-tak (guy), Lydia Park (chief inspector at tribunal), Jeon Su-gyeong (Chinese restaurant manageress), Jang Hang-jun (Chinese restaurant boss), Kim Jeong-hak (forensics officer).