Superb Korean masterpiece
- The Handmaiden review by AM
Another example of how Korean cinema can teach Hollywood a thing or two about storytelling and exquisite imagery.
Beautifully directed and acted with ever fluctuating sensuality and intrigue. The story takes twists and turns and dead
ends in a sleight of hand manipulating allegiances all the way to the denouement.
12 out of 12 members found this review helpful.
Superb Korean Film
- The Handmaiden review by PW
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.
9 out of 9 members found this review helpful.
A nasty experience
- The Handmaiden review by AKL
Pornography and sadism are the main features of this truly nasty film set in Korea and Japan in the 1930s. I might have enjoyed it more had I studied the historical background prior to viewing it. But I doubt it. It was much too long and the lesbian sex scenes, which the Director clearly
relished, became annoyingly tedious. And the sado-machistic scenes, though mercifully brief, were loathsome and unnecessary.
0 out of 5 members found this review helpful.