The Handmaiden (REVIEW)

Written by Jacob Chimilar

I am not as much of a foreign film watcher as I would sometimes like to be. But every now and then I'll watch something that has been recommended and hopefully tuck into something worth the extra bit of attention those movies require. Boy am I glad I did with this film. Telling the tale of a group of swindlers who are planning to con a wealthy family out of a part of their fortune. It is a story so luscious and so well crafted that I had to watch it in chunks just to savor each piece. It is like a rich dense chocolate brownie with ice cream, you can only handle so much at a time but you keep coming back for more.

The performances are excellent, from Tae-ri Kim as Sook-Hee the handmaiden, to Min-hee Kim as the Lady Hideko of whom she serves and Jung-woo Ha as the Count in charge of wooing the Lady into being his bride and trying to steal away her portion of her uncle's fortune. Everyone goes all in on their performances and it pays off in spades as the chemistry, romance and deceit permeates through the whole run time.

The direction by Park Chan-wook is wonderful, the writing is sharp with humor and malice, stark imagery and style. The lighting, set designs, costumes, all just fit so well into creating a portal into 1930's Japanese occupied Korea. It's a film that can do both style and substance to a great degree completing a well rounded experience. It has a very genre heavy feel to it, a great cult flim that I think a lot of people will enjoy. I don't want to give too much away but I was thoroughly impressed. It can get very sexually explicit at times but I found for the most part it was actually necessary within the scene because of the layers at play at any given time.     


I honestly can't find much fault with this film. It is an absolute treat to watch. The plot is clever and the writing excellent, not a moment is wasted, everything is important in some way or another and it all serves a purpose for someone in the story. When people ask what makes a good movie, this is one you can point to and see the thought and attention to detail that was put into creating a fascinating tale.