Synopsis: In this sexy and provocative drama based partially on Roman Polanski’s Bitter Moon, film director Jin Young meets an attractive woman and spends the night with her. When he agrees to help a wheelchair-bound film producer to prove his wife’s infidelity by catching her affairs on camera, Jin Young is shocked to discover that the wife turns out to be the same woman. He must now decide whether to expose the truth or conceal his own involvement.
eyelights: Seoyeon Jin. its blend of sex, humour, drama and suspense. its hidden surprises.
eyesores: its overblown finale.
Full disclosure: I picked up ‘Temptation of Eve: Good Wife’ from the local video store because of Seoyeon Jin, the girl on the cover. I had no idea what this movie was but, described on the back as “inspired by Polanski’s ‘Bitter Moon'”, it seemed like a decent enough gamble.
I wondered why it had a subtitle; it seemed convoluted to me (Why not just call it ‘Temptation of Eve’? Or ‘Good Wife’? Why both?). And when I imdb-ed it, it got confusing: multiple titles appeared under ‘Temptation of Eve’ – all in the same year and all with its own subtitle.
What I’ve since discovered is that this appears to be the second in a series of short films broadcast on South Korean TV under the moniker ‘Temptation of Eve’. There may be four in the first season. There may be more. It’s not clear, given what little information there is.
Case-in-point, this is the only film of the series that is available on our shores.
In any event, ‘Good Wife’ is a tempting 90 minutes of sex, humour, drama and suspense: It tells the story of Jin-yeong, a film producer who is asked by Sang-ho, an old friend, to spy on his spouse, In-ae, convinced that she is cheating on him. He wants pictures as proof.
What’s interesting is that ‘Good Wife’ begins by showing Jim-yeong in bed, telling us all about his beautiful spouse – who just happens to be In-ae. So we know from the onset that his gig will not quite turn out as either he or Sang-ho might expect. But what in the world will happen?
Amusingly, his first encounter with In-ae is while he’s on his way to a rendez-vous: As he’s walking in the rain, In-ae, a perfect stranger at the time, runs under his umbrella for shelter. They then go for a flirty lunch together, which leads to a quirky sex scene in his apartment.
Right there and then, we think it’s going to be a romantic comedy.
But it won’t be.
In fact, the moment that Sang-ho makes his request to Jim-yeong (who pities the man, discovering that he’d become a paraplegic following a car accident), the latter is torn between wanting to bed In-ae again, his loyalty to his former friend, and keeping himself out of trouble.
By that point, we’re pretty sure it’s your typical dramatic love triangle.
But it won’t be.
The whole picture darts and dodges genres by throwing on layers of suspense, as both In-ae and Sang-ho’s stories unfold and conflict. What the heck is going on? Who is telling the truth here? And what in the world will Jim-Yeong do to get himself out of this predicament?
Because, as we come to discover, in ‘Good Wife’ anything is possible.
And that’s what makes it so entertaining. It’s not grand cinema: The script is solid but convoluted, and the performances are good but not stellar. But it’s fun. And it’s sexy to boot: There are some fine moments between Jim-yeong and In-ae, as well as In-ae and Sang-ho.
It’s pretty sexy for TV (if it is indeed made for TV).
Where the film falls apart is with the ending, which I found a bit too gimmicky for my taste. It was mildly clever, because it again flew in the face of our expectations, but it didn’t seem credible enough for me. And the twist was a good “ah ha” moment, but it was inexplicable.
Still, I rather enjoyed ‘Good Wife’ – enough so that I find it a shame that the other films in the series aren’t available on DVD over here. I’d certainly want to give them a try. I doubt that they’re remotely comparable (they’re by different filmmakers), but I’d chance it.
This one was good enough to tempt me.
Date of viewing: June 12, 2016