In 1930's Korea a young woman becomes a handmaiden for a wealthy Japanese lady. She is a con artist and a thief. Her main objective is to assist her accomplice, a fake count who wants to marry her lady and eventually obtain the inheritance. But unexpected complications occur. Will the young handmaiden betray her lady or will she……. fall in love?
Cult South Korean director Park Chan-wook, the man behind famous Oldboy, directs a period drama-mystery that may be his best film yet. Known around the world for grotesque violence in his films, he now gives us a sexually charged erotic thriller with many twists and turns and where the final truth is hidden until the very end.
However, THE HANDMAIDEN is not completely free of violence and gore, but it has a more suggestive value, that is ever the focus of this complicated story. It may not be a flattering comparison, but the film has a structure not unlike Wild Things, a 90's thriller with Neve Campbell and Denise Richards.
THE HANDMAIDEN is beautifully designed, with the decor and architecture of the period, showcased in all its detailed glory, to the point, that the drama, sometimes, takes the back seat. Erotic scenes are steamy; sensual; but never too revealing, never going beyond what Sex & The City would allow.
There's nothing negative to mention about the film, apart from not being too deep. The film doesn't offer much more than its quirky mystery, perfect performances and eye candy. But what else do you need from your entertainment? It's impossible not to be seduced by THE HANDMAIDEN.
THE HANDMAIDEN was adapted from a novel FINGERSMITH by Welsh author Sarah Waters with settings changed from Victorian Era to Korea under Japanese colonial rule.
The film was selected to compete for Palme D'Or at the Cannes Festival 2016;
The film has a rating 18+ in Australia;