The Handmaiden

The Handmaiden ★★★★

Just when I thought this was going to lapse into the usual arty emptiness of Park Chan-wook's filmography, all titillation and shock value rendered flat by overemphasis, the film takes a turn, then another, then three more, then back to the top to trickle down more twists and upheavals. Instead of plodding on about his simplistic, half-assed moralism about revenge, Park just lets loose, and for one of the few times in his career he is genuinely thrilling. Sometimes in the past, Park's ornate direction of trashy material has recalled (and fallen short of) De Palma, but this film, with its looping variations and erotic play, may be the first time you could program this with a BDP. Play it with Femme Fatale for maximum effect.