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[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Scent" of Success...

2012/09/08 | 4687 views | Permalink

Film: "The Scent"

Director: Kim Hyeong-jun

Stars: Park Hee-soon, Park Si-yeon, Joo Sang-wook, Kim Jung-tae and Lee Kwang-soo

Score: 5/10

Grouped with some of year's more provocative features, Kim Hyeong-jun's "The Scent" teases more than pleases as even an unclad Park Si-yeon failed to pull the film into the realm of decency. In this world of sex, lies, adultery and murder Kim seemingly lost the thread on what was really driving the film. While the film's 'noirish' elements put on a great showing, their effectiveness was sterilized by the haphazard inclusion of other genre motifs and distracting insertions.

We follow private detective Kang Seon-woo (played by Park Hee-soon) as he struggles to make sense of the double murder he soon finds himself in, the mystery of which soon begins to evaporate, along with any possible suspense, at the film's failure to launch. "The Scent" fumbled its genre overlays and overall tone by gorging itself on saturated melodramatics that ultimately failed to enrich or serve the film's ends. Sucking out the spirit of this apparent neo-noir before it was truly given a chance. I am not saying the 'funny-mysterious-sexy-neo-noir-thriller" can't be done, it's just that it hasn't been done here, or least not to any remarkable degree.

With the lovely Park Si-yeon (as the recently widowed Kim Soo-jin) carrying the poisonous task of the archetypal 'Femme Fatale', "The Scent" is strongly measured by her role in the piece. It is her who seems to be pulling the strings of the private-eye's investigation, but here her skills as a puppeteer are minimized as Park preferred give her more screen time that meaningful dialogue. I forgive him though because the film still managed to make me laugh as desperately welcomed flecks of good humor distracted me from what was really happening.

Although the film follows the classic three-act structure, I am not convinced the duration and relevance of each set was given the appropriate degree of attention. The film's set-up does attempt to prepare you for the frames that follow, in terms of that  magical narrative spark, but it was a hard sell that never convinced or manifested any palpable interest on the part of the viewer. "The Scent" seemed to fail itself at presenting an attractive pretext to any mystery or intrigue it should've induced. I would defend the film by perhaps saying 'its not the destination, but the journey', however it's simply unavoidable here as any story substance that may have once been present was cleansed of itself before it even had a chance. Act II, as it where, was illusive and its served only as a brief stepping stone into Act III, which itself suffered from pacing and timing issues. Well-structured it is not, but that doesn't deny you the pleasure of understanding what actually happened in the film; as, thankfully, there is enough flashy exposition to make sure you at least understood it all, right?

The mid-way surprise of Mrs. Park's decision to reveal a little more than her shoulders was a pleasant sight, so it would be hard to not somehow recommend this film. Still, to be fair after all, watching the "The Scent" was a slow and dry grind to a journey that ended as disappointingly as it started. 

- C.J Wheeler (


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