The Handmaiden (2016)
October 8, 2017 2:33 PM - Subscribe

From Park Chan-Wook (Oldboy, Stoker), adapting Sarah Waters' 2002 novel Fingersmith. 1930s Korea, in the period of Japanese occupation, a new girl (Sookee) 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.

Trailer (NSFW)
Rotten Tomatoes (95%)
AV Club (A-)
posted by soren_lorensen (11 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Ugh, I'm dying to see this. I read Fingersmith earlier this year, and I'm not sure I entirely loved it, but I'm generally enthusiastic for foreign adaptations (and things set in Korea).
posted by glitter at 6:11 PM on October 8, 2017

This was fantastic. I saw it at a film festival last year and it was a visual feast. The storyline was interesting and the acting was good, but the sumptuousness of the visuals really put it over the top for me. I've never read Fingersmith so I can't say how true to the story it was, but Park Chan-Wook certainly put his own stamp on it. There was a scene that reminded me a bit of Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, the only movie I've come close to walking out of because it was so uncomfortable--you know that graphic violence is happening but you don't necessarily see the bulk of the violence.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 8:31 PM on October 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

It's on DVD now and streaming (free on Amazon Prime or rental from your favorite streaming service).
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:29 AM on October 9, 2017

THIS WAS SO ZANY. I loved Fingersmith (TOTALLY fun read - highly recommended). This had a lot of the same charm, then went off the deep end. It was too violent for my tastes (which I recognize are old-fashioned). Aesthetically it was... good. There's a lot of weird subverted male gaze going on... kind of Russ Meyeresque in a way of both slobbering over sexy naked women and visualizing them with extreme power.

I will say it inspired a lot of conversation in my community (well, on my wife's facebook) about lesbian scissoring. A poll of our lez friends revealed that some of us have indeed done it. But, it's not like, a frequent mode of sexual expression!
posted by latkes at 2:07 PM on October 9, 2017

It was, all at once, the most and least uplifting thing I'd seen in months.
posted by queen anne's remorse at 6:46 PM on October 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

Woah, I had no idea this was based on Fingersmith. Definitely going to see it now, thanks!
posted by Ragged Richard at 8:37 AM on October 10, 2017

This was good. I was hooked by part 1 but I didn't quite see that tonal shift coming for part 2. The old guy's death was too peaceful for what he did to Hideko's aunt.
posted by jojo and the benjamins at 3:33 PM on October 22, 2017

This is an absolute treat. A classic film noir through and through. We ended up seeing an extended edition which was incredibly long, but we couldn't turn it off for a minute.
posted by Catblack at 7:43 PM on November 17, 2017

Catblack, what does the extended version cover?
posted by jojo and the benjamins at 11:22 PM on November 17, 2017

Wow, finally got to see this. So well acted and filmed. I've been seeing a lot of bad movies lately so actually it seemed INCREDIBLY well done.

Part 2 is so lurid and monstrous after part 1. The horrible pervo flag is unfurled and waved proudly.

The women workers of the asylum donning their firefighting gear was a very strange few seconds of movie.

It's interesting that the movie made illustrations of the sex between the two gals considering how the illustrations were otherwise vilified (including the posed scene that Sook-hee was supposed to stumble on when she brought back the oil paints). Maybe they aren't free after all...

Or maybe the freedom is living out such scenes, instead of just having to make them for the consumption of others.. The uncle's pathetic desire to know the details of Hideko having sex, told as if it was a story... But Sook-hee gets to live as a doll she used to dress up, and Hideko gets to be a character in a lurid sex story instead of just a reader of them.. idk.
posted by fleacircus at 7:47 AM on September 29, 2019

Sometimes, still, after watching a film I still think, "Wow, The Handmaiden was such a beautiful movie."
posted by fleacircus at 9:52 PM on March 1, 2020

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