The Handmaiden (18)
2016 ( USA ) ( Action, Adventure, Biography )
( Korean and Japanese with English subtitles )
DIRECTOR: Chan-wook Park
STARRING: Min-hee Kim, Jung-woo Ha, Jin-woong Jo
This sumptuous-looking South Korean film, which was rapturously received at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, is actually based on a 2002 book ‘Fingersmith’ by Sarah Waters. Having transposed the erotic crime story to 1930s-era colonial Korea and Japan, Park presents a gripping and sensual tale of a young Japanese Lady living on a secluded estate, and a Korean woman who is hired to serve as her new handmaiden, but who is secretly involved in a conman’s plot to defraud her of her large inheritance.
Park’s film takes great delight in wrong-footing its audience, peeling away layers of mesmerising misdirection with delicious cinematic sleight of hand. As the serpentine narrative spirals back and forth upon itself, we witness the same events from multiple perspectives, each one more revealing than the last. ‘The Handmaiden’ is a twisty, twisted, psycho-sexual thriller, in which, for all its explicit content, nothing is quite as it appears.