On Monday 22nd October, the lucky few of us who worked at this years Korean Film Festival in Sydney were given the opportunity to attend the DENDY Cinema in Newtown’s screening of the 2009 movie, ‘The Recipe' (된장). A movie that revolves around the traditional Korean dish of doenjang jigae, or soy bean soup as it’s most closely translated in English. Hats off to whoever it was that came up with the stroke of genius to get local Korean restaurant, Paju, to put on a buffet style Korean feast in the cinema lobby before the movie started.
Being a guy whose mood is dictated by how much food is in his stomach, I was immediately put into a state of euphoria by the stacked plates of bulgogi, kimchi, and various others on display. Not even the woman sat close to me who was educating her husband about the “Japanese superstar”, Psy, could distract me from the plate, and to top it all off Hyun provided us with a beautiful performance of a traditional Korean dance.
With appetites satisfied and senses awakened, it was time for the movie. As someone who considers himself pretty familiar with the Korean movie scene, I have to hold my head in shame and say that ‘The Recipe’ flew completely under my radar, not even the name was familiar. Although once I saw the poster art I knew I’d seen it before, obviously for someone who tends to lean towards the grittier side of Korean movie making, I realized that I’d obviously dismissed a film about a spicy stew without a second thought. After all, how can you make a whole movie that revolves around a dish that’s normally eaten within 10 minutes? (or is that just me?)
Well, ‘The Recipe’ answers that question in an interesting way. To define the genre of the movie would depend of which part you were watching, as if someone only saw the beginning, middle, or end, I’ve no doubt all three would come back with separate answers. At times it appears to be a murder mystery about a serial killer, then it shifts to a comedy about a bumbling reporter, for a few moments it seems it’s going to have elements of the supernatural, before eventually it seems to become the tale of two doomed lovers.