Director Chan-wook Park (Oldboy, Thirst) seems to have made a relatively tame movie by his standards—at least for a good part of The Handmaiden’s running time.
A young woman (Tae-ri Kim) is recruited by a scam artist (Jung-woo Ha) for a robbery plot involving another young woman (Min-hee Kim) and her uncle (Jin-woong Jo). The movie happens in three parts, and it plays out like a simple mystery-thriller for some of the time. But, hey, this is Park we’re talking about, so the fact that you may wind up seeing some octopuses and severed penises by the film’s end should not come as a surprise.
Yes, this one goes delightfully off the rails and winds up being another gonzo great from one of cinema’s nuttiest directors. The Handmaiden goes from being a standard thriller to a darkly comic statement on sleazy men and their icky porno … or something like that.
Park makes a damn good-looking movie (every shot in this film is a freaking masterpiece), and all of the participants, especially the two Kims, are excellent in their roles. What’s so great about Park is that you never really know what you are going to get—and what you get is usually a fun/sick surprise. He will always be one of the more daring men to get behind a camera.
After seeing this, you’ll want to avoid the basement at all costs. Don’t watch this with your mom, your kids or any members of the clergy.
The Handmaiden is now playing at the Palm Desert 10 Cinemas (72840 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-340-0033.