What Have I Been Watching? … The Handmaiden

Yesterday, I started one of my favorite “classes.” I use quotes because it’s not a class in the traditional sense. We basically watch a film and afterwards the moderator brings in the director, writers, producers and/or actors to talk about the making-of the film but we don’t get graded. It’s a lot of fun. My favorite quarter to take the class is the fall quarter when the moderator, esteemed film critic, Anne Thompson (if you’re a film buff check out  her work here & here) curates the program with awesome, thought provoking films that are often Oscar contenders. I admit I probably would never have gone to the theater to watch many of the films I’ve seen in her course.

Last night did not disappoint…

Our first film was the South Korean film, The Handmaiden directed by Park Chan-wook (Oldboy , Thirst). And boy, Thompson was not kidding when she said this movie was sexy as hell. Yeah, the movie is in Korean and Japanese so if you don’t know either language like me, you have to read the subtitles but trust me you will still see a lot.

The screenplay was adapted from the novel Fingersmith by Sarah Waters and takes place in Japanese occupied Korea in the 1930s. The premise of the story is that of a Korean conman, disguising himself as a Japanese Count and hiring a pickpocket girl to be the maid of a Japanese heiress to convince the heiress to fall in love with him in order to take her away from her domineering uncle and steal her wealth. Many twists and turns ensue when the heiress falls in love with her maid.

Here’s a quick look at the trailer:

Intriguing, right?

The sophisticated décor, elegant costumes and striking scenery are a wonderful backdrop to the multi-layered plot (pay attention!). The love scenes between the heiress and the maid are explicit yet beautifully shot, sensual and as it happens in real life, funny at times. Due to these scenes, I definitely don’t recommend you watch this with your parents or kids around. I do not want to say much so not to give anything away so to put it simply: Overall, I would highly recommend this erotic thriller. Go check it out when it is released in the U.S. on October 21st, love to know what you thought of the film!

“It did much better than break even.” Park Chan-wook when referring to the success of the film in his native South Korea. Left to Right: Thompson, Park Chan-wook, Tae Ri Kim and their translator.

U.S. Release Date: October 21, 2016

Rating: NR

Until next time,



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