Review by Bluray Junkies
Filmmaker Chan-wook Park has made some of the most memorable insanely intense, dark and unforgettable films from his highly acclaimed Vengeance trilogy starting with Oldboy (2003) to Thirst to his first English speaking film Stoker. He knows how to dig deep into the dark realm of the human psyche while keeping you engaged in the dark beauty of his visual style. The Handmaiden is no exception.
The film is a perfect a blend of historical romance with nightmarish horror and eroticism thrown together with beautiful filmmaking and acting. If you know Park’s work then your expectations are fully met and like other Park films this is too is a stunning film. The Handmaiden is set in Japanese-occupied Korea in the 1930’s and tells the story of Sooke who becomes an expert thief. She is recruited by someone posing as a Japanese Count to help him seduce a Lady and rob her of her fortune. She accepts and posies as a handmaiden at the estate. However things start going wrong and Sooke caught in the middle of a nightmarish scandal and a dangerous love affair.
Park’s choice of storytelling is unique, he decides to split it into three parts from different points of view. This was at first somewhat jarring, but once you understand what Park is trying to do it’s a brilliant move. Park is a truly gifted filmmaker and The Handmaiden shows this with its carefully constructed writing, beautiful cinematography, outstanding performances and direction. If you are able to see this film do so, it is refreshing to see a uniquely original film in the midst of action-comic-book movies, it’s a must see 4/4
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