War in Georgia, Apkhazeti region in 1990. An Estonian man Ivo has stayed behind to harvest his crops of tangerines. In a bloody conflict at his door, a wounded man is left behind, and Ivo is forced to take him in.
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. 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 Sookee and Hideko discover some unexpected emotions.Written by
The film became the highest-grossing Chan-wook Park-directed film in the United States. It also became the highest-grossing foreign language film in the United Kingdom in the 2017. Amazon handled the releases in both countries. See more »
Mercury is a slow (typically chronic not acute) poison that will kill victims over a period of days not within minutes. Metallic mercury in the tiny amounts presented would not be lethal at all in the circumstances shown. See more »
But, for sending me Sookee out of all the girls in the world, I feel 'slightly' grateful.
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Extended version runs approx. 21 minutes longer. See more »
This is hands down the most perfect film I have seen so far this year. I gave a score of 5/5 to movies like The Revenant, Spotlight and The Songs We Sang. But even with these excellent films I can always find a spot that doesn't quite sit right with me. With The Handmaiden, it is perfect; every frame handcrafted to perfection. Even with 4min of explicit sex taken away by my country's dumb censors, this is still perfect every way I see it.
Auteur Park Chan-Wook's The Handmaiden is a superb exercise in form, structure and tone. With the latter, Park (Oldboy & Joint Security Area) has achieved something extraordinary. If any scene were to linger a few seconds longer or he had decided to focus on a certain issue, the film would have veered off to a different territory. As it is, and with all the major characters' kooky off-kilter portrayals, I can't pinpoint whether I was watching something real or abstract. I was also kept in awe by the intricate and resplendent set- design which suggests something dark and Gothic is working the undercurrents. There are of course some serious girl on girl action but that never encroaches into the spine of the story.
Adapting Sarah Waters' Fingersmith, a Victorian tale awash with all manner of Dickensian motifs, Park spins an engrossing tale that ebbs and flows with a Hitchcockian suspense; it withholds as much as it discloses; it is an erotic tale that beats with raw fervour. It is at once a love story but also a menagerie showcasing human beings in their vilest forms. Park's finger hovers over all the buttons, teasing us gleefully but it is with the ultimate restraint that he never descends down to the usual tropes. The story is divided into three chapters; each told from a different character's perspective. The structure is Rashomon-esque but Park puts his own stamp on it. The film may be nearly 2.5 hours but I hardly moved in my seat; my senses kept spellbound as each twist hits me hard. When it ended I couldn't believe 2.5 hours have whizzed by. The plot is pulsating and it never lets up. There is even an octopus in it! This is definitely the most perfect film I have seen this year. You may not agree with me but for me this is cinema of the masterclass level.
It's sexy time!
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