The Handmaiden mashes up Gothic horror, Honeymoon Killers, and lesbian eroticism. It’s set in 1930’s Korea, at the mansion of a tyrannical Japanophile who holds his virginal niece in a kind of captivity. The movie, directed by Park Chan-wook, is divided into three parts, told from three different perspectives, and it gets increasingly interesting, with surprises unfolding along the way—it’s a marvel of storytelling. Visually, The Handmaiden is a widescreen experience, with careful attention paid to production design and costumes; the camerawork is nimble, as the camera roves around. If there’s a problem with The Handmaiden, it’s the tone, which makes the pornographic sex scenes, though titillating, somewhat campy. So what.
In Japanese and Korean.
By Alec Julian & Carrie White