Review: ‘The Naked Kitchen’

There's more cookin' beneath the surface than above it in "The Naked Kitchen."

There’s more cookin’ beneath the surface than above it in “The Naked Kitchen,” a handsomely shot romantic dramedy about a very curious menage a trois in which food isn’t the main course. Recalling metaphysical South Korean movies of a decade ago, femme director Hong Ji-young’s debut is a toothsome, if fluffy, dish that’s ideal for Asian webs, with a charming perf from Shin Min-ah as a woman who unrealistically wants two guys in her life.

Married to nice but undemanding childhood friend Sang-in (Hong Sang-soo regular Kim Tae-woo), the only man she’s ever slept with, Mo-rae (Shin) is unexpectedly seduced one day by Du-re (Ju Ji-hun). When she confesses her indiscretion, Sang-in shrugs it off, but when Du-re turns out to be involved in a restaurant Sang-in is opening — and comes to stay at their home — Mo-rae keeps quiet about Du-re’s identity and finds herself emotionally confused by his ongoing advances. The two men’s close friendship, Du-re’s louche personality and the almost platonic love between the married couple hint at all manner of sexual complexities, though the pic’s attraction is that they’re never made explicit. Korean title simply means “Kitchen.”

The Naked Kitchen

South Korea

Production

A Silverspoon release of a Soo Film production, in association with Sponge. (International sales: M-Line, Seoul.) Produced by Min Jin-su, Min Gyu-dong. Executive producer, Min Jin-su. Directed, written by Hong Ji-young.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Choi Sang-muk; editor, Seong Su-ah; music, Kim Jun-seong; production designer, Kim Seon-ju. Reviewed on DVD, London, Jan. 12, 2010. (In Berlin Film Festival -- Culinary Cinema.) Original title: Kkichin. Running time: 102 MIN.

With

With: Shin Min-ah, Kim Tae-woo, Ju Ji-hun, Jeon Hye-jin, Park Sang-hun, Bang Eun-jin.
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