The Handmaiden

The Handmaiden ★★★★★

Of all the movies of 2016, The Handmaiden is probably the "moviest "of them all. It's a pure, dizzying piece of entertainment that excites, disturbs, confounds and astounds at every turn. Park Chan-Wook piles luscious Victorian imagery on top of lewd, perverted thru lines for a sort of classy-trash feel; though he never loses track of the human core at the center of it all. Like everything I've seen from him yet, his control over this is meticulous and it contains all his trademark sensibilities. A dark, twisted sense of humor never stretched to gratuitous lengths. His fascination with sex as a powerful force, and his particular affinity for vengeance narratives. To confine The Handmaiden to a particular genre is impossible, it's a beast impossible to pin down.

Half of the fun of The Handmaiden is watching Park Chan-Wook maintain control over this as it twists and turns with an aggressive intentionality. Navigating through these shifts in perspective, allegiance and attitude with enormous skill and perhaps greater enjoyment. To say where these twists lead would spoil the fun, but this is a fable of love and liberation, of masks being thrown away and true selves being embraced. It's a beautiful film, often in horrifying or erotic ways, but Wook's experiment with classical aesthetics excels. I really don't know what to say about this. I feel like writing about it forever yet to rid you of it's thrilling surprises feels criminal. There's so much praise to be offered here, so much to unwrap and discover. It's one of 2016's very best films and a film every movie lover needs to see.

2016 Ranked

Park Chan-Wook Marathon

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