1930's Korea, in the period of Japanese occupation, Sook Hee is hired as a handmaiden to a Japanese heiress, Hideko, who lives a secluded life on a large countryside estate with her domineering Uncle Kouzuki. But the maid has a secret. She is a pickpocket recruited by a swindler posing as a Japanese Count 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.
Cast & Credits
The story is excellent. You can see how much effort the writer and director put into it right from the first scene. While it gets dark and depressing, there is also a light tone to it during some parts. This is the first time I have watched a lesbian Korean movie and found myself highly loving it. While the two women serve as the main characters, Ha Jeong Woo also plays the male lead and has quite a presence throughout. During the entire course of the film, it will give you the feeling of reading a book than watching a film. It's poetic and literary in its narration and the atmosphere of the movie just amplifies all the best parts about the film.
There were a few erotic scenes but I felt like they were tastefully filmed. The girls have good chemistry with each other and Ha Jeong Woo was the perfect barrier between them. I was impressed by how well all three spoke Japanese in the movie (also the supporting cast). Plus the era the film is set in makes it a hundred times more interesting. It's intriguing to see Korea portrayed under the rule of Japan and you can see how much Korean culture was influenced by the Japanese during then. You could watch the movie just for the periodic setting and even then you could enjoy it for that solely as well.
What's cool about the movie is the plot- the conning, friendship, romance, perversion and obsession. There's also a slight revenge aspect to the story which was the main twist and made this movie way more likable. Also the costumes, sets and dialogues are what made it so fun. I swear I blushed during a few parts of the film because I never realized how erotic Japanese can sound with the right diction.
If you wanna know what sets this movie apart, it's the setting/era (undoubtedly) and also the ending. YES. The ending makes it all worth it. The entire 2+ hours will fly by and you will not even notice it. And the twist was so, so clever. Kudos to the writer.
Only watch it if you are over 18 or a mature teen. There are some scenes of torture and hints of BDSM and perversion. They are not too overbearing so do not worry. Just sit down and enjoy it- like me. The ending makes it the best thing ever. TRUST ME.
I first heard about it because it was officially competing at the Cannes's Movie Festival.
And then I saw that the great Park Chan Wook was the director behind it so I quickly decided to watch it.
BUT, neither did I read the summary first nor watched the trailer ... and maybe I should have had.
Don't get me wrong ! This movie is a masterpiece. But, I wasn't expecting that plotline AT ALL.
You should be aware that it gots some serious mature contents like SEX, BDSM and violence. You can feel really uneasy watching it. But that is the reason why this movie is so beautiful : the darkness and somehow weird feels matches so well with the love story. Some scenes are magical.
But just keep in mind that it is 18+ rated (basically 5 minutes of intense, non-stoping and not-really censured sex)
There is three major arks in the movie: the first two ones where you get to discover and even rediscover the characters and story from different point of views, and the third one where all of your answers are answered & the story ends.
This combination might seems odd to some viewers, as we sometimes get to rewatch the same scenes. But I personally find it really interesting.
The two main actresses are absolutely perfect. They convey all the feels of their characters in an emotional way. As it is stayed in the summary, they will both 'discover some unexpected emotions'. Lesbian relationship in Korean movies are quite unusual and I must say that this one is breaking down HUGE taboos. The geniuses of Park Chan Wook was to gamble on this idea, in a country where he perfectly knows that the critics will get fierce.
Thanks to a good casting choice, I personally think that he won his bet.
I was surprisingly amazed by Kim Tae Ri (Sook Hee)'s acting. She's new, It's her first movie. The idea of new fits perfectly her character. The way she acted was stunning. I want to see her in more things from now on.
Anyway if you're 18+, interested in some good suspenseful stories and open-minded regarding this movie love plot line, you will definitely enjoy it.
It's not Old Boy sure ...but it is The Handmaiden. They both have their qualities and universe.
Special mention to the ending song which was absolutely gorgeous ... kinda combines all of the feels that this movie gives you.