The Handmaiden

The Handmaiden ★★★★

The Handmaiden

Park Chan-wook is quite the juggernaut. Korean cinema has never been the same since his residency. Fellow Korean and American filmmakers stand small against Chan-wook, looking up towards the bar he's continued to raise. His best film is also his most underrated: Thirst. Not only one of the best vampire films ever made, but one of the greatest horror films of the past 20 years. Easy. Highly recommended viewing.

The Handmaiden is an exercise in patience. The more patience tested, the more you'll get out of it. The period costumes, elegant production design, and performances take some time to lather in. It's nearly impossible to review this film the second it ends.

It's a simple tale made largely complicated as each "Part" scrapes itself across the screen. What appears to be an innocent story about a plan to steal a fortune soon unveils itself to be a psycho-sexual, duplicitous stranglehold of greed and lust, and eventual blood and death. Chan-wook's style translates almost too well to this narrative. We've come to know the man as a crime-centric, neo-noir aficionado, but to witness such restraint for it's 2 and half hour run was like opening the door to a stopped car on a blisteringly hot day. Relief.

All in All, this film might test your patience, but it's never boring. Trailing along the story is painfully lustful, and revenge is almost never this bitter sweet.

B+

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