The Handmaiden is the sort of erotic thriller they don’t make anymore! After making fantastic films like Thirst, Stoker, and the modern crime classic Oldboy (I can go on all day about my love for Oldboy), incredible South Korean director Chan-wook Park decided to make one of his most erotic yet thrilling films yet. Bending through many twists and turns that NO ONE could ever expect, myself included, The Handmaiden tells the story of a pickpocket named Sook-Hee (Tae-ri Kim), who is hired by the Count Fujiwara (Jung-woo Ha) to act as the handmaiden to his bride to be, Japanese heiress Lady Hideko (Min-hee Kim). Count Fujiwara has some secrets, though, as he plans on marrying Hideko just to put her in an asylum and take her inheritance for himself. As Sook-Hee tends to Hideko, they both start to lust for each other as plans unfold and a bucket full of twists are unleashed on this story.
Chan-wook Park is an incredible filmmaker, there’s no doubt about that. If you’re a fan of his previous films, you already know that, but even then, he still surprises me how good he is. Twisting through corridors and zooming in on our leads at breakneck speed, Park pulls no stops on his direction. On top of that, you have some of this year’s best cinematography. The dark rooms are eerie and the outside is beautiful. The blend of both works in favor of each other, and creates a beautiful portrait of early 1900s Korea under Japanese control. In addition, you have the amazing performances by Tae-ri Kim and Min-hee Kim as Sook and Hideko, respectively. Add a great screenplay by Seo-kyeong Jeong, who also wrote Thirst, and you have a phenomenally underrated foreign film from yesteryear. If you’re planning on catching up, The Handmaiden would be a perfect start!
dir. Chan-wook Park
Part of the ongoing series: (Some of) The Best of 2016
Screens at 5:00PM and 8:00PM