Welcome to PW's film reviews page. PW has written 2 reviews and rated 13 films.
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As a fan of Korean films and having just watched “The Handmaiden” I can honestly say it is probably the best Korean film I have seen.
It is directed by the great Chan-wook Park, of ‘Oldboy’ fame and if you have seen any of his films before you will know that he is renowned for a particular style, with gorgeous cinematography and quirky plots, and he can never be accused of being restrained.
The Handmaiden is based upon the English novel ‘Fingersmith’ which was set in Victorian England but The Handmaiden translates the story to 1930s Korea when the country was under Japanese occupation. The subtitles are helpfully in yellow when Japanese is being spoken and white when it is Korean, and this is quite important to understanding the plot.
It tells the tale of a young girl from a family of thieves who takes part in a plot to defraud a rich Japanese heiress of her money by helping a crook who poses as a Count to marry her, put her into an asylum and steal her fortune. However the girl who is put into the role of the handmaiden starts to fall for her mistress and from then on things get complicated. I will not elaborate more on the plot as it is quite involved and full of unexpected twists. There is little more I could say without spoiling it.
The film is extraordinarily beautiful. It is sometimes said about films that each frame is like piece of art and this is very much the case here. The plot is intricate and twisty, the acting is superb, the costumes and sets are magnificent and the score is pretty damned good too. To me it was faultless.
But be warned. There are some extended scenes of quite explicit lesbian sex so if that sort of thing bothers you then it may not be for you. However these scenes are tastefully done and never vulgar. There are also some disturbing scenes of torture near the end so it is definitely not one to watch with the kids. The film is also two and a half hours in length but it had me gripped all the way through.
So if you like art house films of an adult nature, that explore love, treachery and some of the darker sides of humanity then I would highly recommend it. If you are someone who likes Hollywood style action films and can’t do subtitles then it wont be for you. Hollywood could never produce something like this.
The film gained widespread acclaim at the Cannes film festival and has a pretty decent 8.1 score on IMDB.
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Ove is a grumpy old man who lives on his own in a small development in Sweden. He has recently lost his wife to cancer and has also lost his job. He is rude to his neighbours and is fanatical about rules and everything being done right. At first Ove seems to be a person that is difficult to like (even though some of his sarcastic comments to other people are very funny).
However, when a young couple with two children move in next door, a friendship slowly develops between Ove and the Iranian wife. We also see flashbacks to Ove's past. It seems he has always been a simple and slightly awkward person, but his love story with his wife is charming, as she sees Ove for the good soul that he really is. We also learn more of the trials and tribulations of Ove's life that go some way to explaining why he is like he is. His relationship with the new family starts to change him and he starts to see life differently.
There is a lot to like about this film. The character of Ove is wonderfully acted by top Swedish actor Rolf Lassgard and Bahar Pars as Parvenah is great as Ove's saviour. The film is very funny in parts, and also very touching. It is the type of film that will make you smile and at the same time bring a tear to your eye.
Highly recommended by me.
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