The three leading ladies of "Venus Talk" are friends with one common interest that I can suss out- they all enjoy sex, but are ambivalent on the subject of men. It's a sympathetic enough topic with no particularly impressive solution, so they deal with the problem the best way any of us can- with jokes. And sure enough, "Venus Talk" gets quite a bit of mileage just out of sheer novelty value. Take Sin-hye (played by Uhm Jung-hwa). She's disgusted at the piggish behavior of the director with whom she has a secret romantic workplace relationship, and vents out her frustration by demanding he do a better job with close up bikini shots.
That's the first step to properly enjoying "Venus Talk", is to immediately clear your mind of any idea that its main characters have any kind of serious sympathy for the female gender. For them, the only people who deserve pity in life are women like them, who are frequently frustrated in their attempts for sexual satisfaction by...well, lots of stuff really. Sometimes it's society, sometimes it's kids, sometimes it's the limitations of a male body that's growing older. The point being, I guess, that just because you get older doesn't mean that all the drama stops.
It doesn't actually sound all that funny or pleasant when phrased like that, but still. The movie does make an effort in this department, it's just so limited and circumscribed that after a while I really did just stop caring about anything that happens to these people. Certainly, you could blame this on perspective. I'm a relatively young man with a low libido, so I'm pretty much the exact opposite of the target audience.
But then, a genuinely good movie would have appeal even beyond the target audience, and to put it simply, even with characters I probably should have been able to relate to, I simply didn't. Take Hyeon-seung (played by Lee Jae-yoon). He's also a young man who explicitly says he's not a one night stand kind of guy. Consequently, his romance with Sin-hye...revolves almost entirely around sex.
I'm honestly not being flippant about that. At first I liked the way "Venus Talk" portrayed men, seemingly as if we aren't all massive raging sexhounds, but I'm genuinely having trouble thinking of any plot point after the earlier introductory portions of the male leads that actually bears this reasoning out. Yeah, they're caring and genuinely affectionate. The trouble is I have almost no idea why they have any apparent emotional attachment to the leading ladies.
It's not that the characters are particularly unlikable, even if there are some obvious shades of narcissism in their characterization. The question any movie needs to satisfactorily answer is, all right, why was this a story that needed to be told? I suppose in a world where older women's sexuality isn't that frequently explored in mainstream sex comedies, there's some argument to be made for the high concept behind "Venus Talk". In terms of objective merits though...there honestly just isn't that much here.
Review by William Schwartz
Available on DVD from YESASIA
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Busan International Film Festival Movie Review] "Venus Talk""
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