When I hear the name of director Park Chan-wook I immediately think Oldboy and Lady Vengeance – powerful and violent movies all about revenge – not an erotically-charged romance-thriller, but that’s exactly what we’re getting with The Handmaiden.
It’s a re-imagining of the 2002 novel ‘Fingersmith’ by Sarah Waters with the original English characters and setting of Victorian Era Britain changed to Japanese and Korean characters during the period of Japanese colonial rule over Korea; and which looks to provide a unique aesthetic to the underlying tale.
The official plot synopsis is as follows:
1930s Korea, in the period of Japanese occupation, a new girl (Sook-Hee – Tae Ri Kim) is hired as a handmaiden to a Japanese heiress (Hideko – Min-hee Kim) who lives a secluded life on a large countryside estate with her domineering Uncle (Kouzuki – Jin-woong Jo).
But the maid has a secret. She is a pickpocket recruited by a swindler posing as a Japanese Count (Jung-woo Ha) to help him seduce the Lady to elope with him, rob her of her fortune, and lock her up in a madhouse. The plan seems to proceed according to plan until Sook-Hee and Hideko discover some unexpected emotions.
The trailer is definitely visually impressive and displays Park’s distinctive directorial flair. And while we don’t hear anything from the actors, we can see enough from them in the trailer to know that all the characters have a great deal going on beneath the surface – which makes for an intriguing first look at a movie I probably wouldn’t have been all that interested in otherwise.
What do you think?
The Handmaiden is due for release in the US on 14 October. Directed by Park Chan-wook, it stars Kim Min-hee, Kim Tae-Ri, Jo Jin-woong and Ha Jung-woo.
Last Updated: August 2, 2016