I know this movie came out in August 2016, but I only saw it last month and watched it again last week for a second time. I usually don’t rewatch any movie – except for The Notebook and Home Alone 1&2; but The Handmaiden is definitely something you’d want to see at least twice.
With a score of 94% on Rotten Tomatoes The Handmaiden will not disappoint. The movie clocks in at 2hr45 of screen time, but it surely doesn’t feel like it. What might be a step too far for some people however, are the explicit sexual sequences in this movie. And although some parts are going on for longer than you’d feel comfortably watching, it is what elevates this movie from a little provocative to gut-wrenching-in-your-face confrontation. Park Chan Wook doesn’t want you to passively sit through the movie, he’s asking you to brood over the matter.
The Handmaiden will bring you 4 main characters: Sook Hee/Tamako – the maid, Count Fujiwara – the conman, Lady Hideko – the Japanese heiress and finally uncle Kouzuki – Lady Hideko’s sadistic uncle. In the first narrative, we’re told that Count Fujiwara is plotting a scheme to marry Lady Hideko, only to dump her as soon as he’s laid his hands on her inheritance. To help his plan succeed, he hires Sook Hee, a pickpocket. She gets referred to work as a maid for Lady Hideko in the ever so intriguing mansion owned by uncle Kouzuki.
As you watch relationships unfold, you will develop genuine feelings towards certain characters and just when you’ve decided who to root for, the story changes and you’re left wondering wether or not you’ve taken the right side. One thing is for sure, The Handmaiden will leave you feeling satisfied.
To make a movie of this level, you need all the right people to come together and have them share your vision. Park Chan Wook has once again proven that his casting is impeccable. From the seasoned actress Kim Min Hee to the fresh face of Kim Tae Ri, everything just falls into place so seamlessly.
The Handmaiden has succeeded to (slightly) disturb while still bringing the entertainment, something many movies fail to achieve these days. Park Chan Wook is a master at his craft and let’s hope he’ll keep spoling us in the (near) future.