Review: The Handmaiden (2017)

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This erotic thriller from director Park Chan-wook weaves an intoxicating web of love, lust and secrets in Korea, at a time when it was under Japanese control. Sook-hee (Tae-ri Kim), a minor criminal, is recruited as a handmaiden to wealthy heiress Lady Hideko (Min-hee Kim), who is the focus of an intricate deception. The script, which has been adapted from Sarah Waters’ novel Fingersmith, is smart and well constructed; the twists and double-crossings hidden in plain sight from both character and audience. Chan-wook works best in his native tongue and his fascination with flesh is explicit, but also beautiful. The theme of female empowerment rings carries much weight, and both actresses are intoxicating, their chemistry off the charts. At no point either does the film feel too long. In fact, the narrative slips and slitters through reveals to end on a high, with some truly artful cinematography by Chung-hoon Chung throughout.

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