The Handmaiden

The Handmaiden ★★★½

The Handmaiden is yet another most favorited and appreciated film on Letterboxd. I had huge expectations as Park Chan-wook's Oldboy left me spellbound. I read quite a few reviews lauding the twists in the story and the well-shot erotic scenes, while it fares well as a romance-drama, it left me wanting more in the thriller genre.

Per mise-en-scène, it seems to be a period drama set in Japanese-occupied Korea. People speak both Korean and Japanese. It's a love story between a handmaiden and her lady who tries to escape from her predator uncle who is an erotic literature fanatic. He trades gold for erotic books. The rest of the story is people conning each other. I'm a big fan of con movies, they are cleverly made. I adore the scheming and plotting narrative, smart-ass characters, their tricks, and theatrics. The Handmaiden offers a lot on a grand scale which kept me engaging.

The premise is a page from erotica so the overdose of sexuality is incorporated well into the narrative. The twists aren't new, to be honest, they are clichés. I don't see the fuss at all. The screenplay is clever. The characters are multifaceted, the story offers their perspectives; editing brings all of it together complementing the screenplay. The production design clearly stands out. The sets are decorated with great detail and all of that is captured by amazing cinematography. The soundtrack is soothing and blends well with the story.

Park Chan-wook is a talented director, I can see why he is appreciated so much. His filmmaking style is evident. I enjoyed the film, but I walked in with huge expectations with Oldboy fresh in my memory, a film with actual twists that left me astounded. The Handmaiden pales in comparison but has its moments, and stands out in technical aspects. Overall, a decent erotic drama.

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