Exclusive film review: The Handmaiden

Newsroom 23/12/2016 | 12:00

Sex! This isn’t one of those sneaky, “Right, now I’ve got your attention, I’d like to sell you car insurance” taglines. It’s an accurate description of much of the content of this South Korean psychological thriller. You certainly get a lot of bang for your buck.

By Debbie Stowe

However, viewers of a less carnal mindset should not be deterred. It’s not trashy, Brian de Palma-style bonking, but tastefully done love scenes. And they don’t detract from the rest of the film, a stylish story of love, obsession and revenge. It has fertile source material: the historical crime novel Fingersmith by Welsh author Sarah Waters, which has already been adapted for the screen in a BBC miniseries. Director Park Chan-wook has swapped the Victorian England setting for Korea under Japanese rule, prior to World War II.

Otherwise, little of significance has been changed in an old-fashioned, twisty plot. A guileless young pickpocket, Sook-Hee (Kim Tae-ri), is hired by conman “Count Fujiwara” (Ha Jung-woo) to assist him in his scheme to snare a wealthy heiress, Lady Hideko (Kim Min-hee). Sook-Hee is to take up employment as Hideko’s maid, gain her confidence, then encourage her to fall in love with, and marry, the count, who plans to steal her fortune.

Hideko lives in a remote mansion with her pervy uncle, who keeps a big library of ancient pornographic texts, from which he makes Hideko read aloud to an audience of wealthy sleazes. How avuncular.

Happy, then, to have someone normal for company, Hideko bonds with Sook-Hee, and the pickpocket starts to have second thoughts about the plot…Well acted and lavishly rendered, The Handmaiden is an absorbing tale, albeit one whose pacing would have benefitted from a less indulgent editing of the love scenes.

DIRECTOR: Park Chan-wook

STARRING: Kim Min-hee, Ha Jung-woo, Kim Tae-ri

ON AT: Movieplex Cinema Plaza, Cine Globe Titan, Hollywood Multiplex, Cinema City Cotroceni, Cinema City ParkLake

BR Magazine | Latest Issue

Download PDF or read online: July 2023 Issue | Business Review Magazine

The July 2023 issue of Business Review Magazine is now available in digital format, featuring the main cover story titled “At a Crossroads: Budget Deficit Endangering Romania’s Economic
Newsroom | 31/07/2023 | 14:14

    You will receive a download link for the latest issue of Business Review Magazine in PDF format, based on the completion of the form below.

    I agree with the Privacy policy of business-review.eu

    I agree with the storage and handling of my data by business-review.eu

    Advertisement Advertisement
    Close ×

    We use cookies for keeping our website reliable and secure, personalising content and ads, providing social media features and to analyse how our website is used.

    Accept & continue