Amazon Studios | Release Date: October 21, 2016
8.5
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Universal acclaim based on 251 Ratings
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Negative:
9
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10
ScarlettMiNov 23, 2016
This movie was such a treat and is easily on my list of best films of 2016. It was original, gorgeous to look at, and confidently adult. I loved it for being both a dark, Gothic thriller and a wickedly funny love story. It was sexy andThis movie was such a treat and is easily on my list of best films of 2016. It was original, gorgeous to look at, and confidently adult. I loved it for being both a dark, Gothic thriller and a wickedly funny love story. It was sexy and twisted and beautiful. The costume design and cinematography and music and sets all blended to create a wonderful piece of art. Fantastic movie. Expand
3 of 3 users found this helpful30
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9
DirigiblePulpDec 14, 2016
Breathtakingly gorgeous; every composition, from the settings, designs, costumes, to the music and the actors -- the entirety of the mise en scène -- is absolute perfection.

A film of twists and turns that are earned because the plot works
Breathtakingly gorgeous; every composition, from the settings, designs, costumes, to the music and the actors -- the entirety of the mise en scène -- is absolute perfection.

A film of twists and turns that are earned because the plot works so well from scene to scene. You don't spend the entire film trying to outguess it but instead are so enraptured by it that it can take you by surprise.

It's also a provocation, one that rides the line between exploitation and art quite daringly. You can justify good chunks of what happens in here, but maybe not all of it (or the extent of it). But taken as a cathartic release from the tyranny of a patriarchal society (and also the Japanese occupation of Korea, which is a subtext I won't pretend to completely understand) it is fitting and has its own brazen clarity. Look on my works, ye Mighty and despair...for you don't get to touch.
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9
ReginthornDec 30, 2016
Park Chan-wook is one of the most versatile directors around. Sure, Park seems fixated on tales of vengeance but never does the worn theme feel like a detractor in his films. Oldboy and Snowpiercer add intricate layers which transform thePark Chan-wook is one of the most versatile directors around. Sure, Park seems fixated on tales of vengeance but never does the worn theme feel like a detractor in his films. Oldboy and Snowpiercer add intricate layers which transform the initial quest for revenge into other issues entirely. The Handmaiden is a movie that keeps the best traits of the South Korean director. Sure revenge underlines the narrative and yet the film is not entirely about revenge. Likewise, the Handmaiden is an erotic thriller and isn’t an erotic thriller. A lesser director would hone in on the pornographic but the film never undercuts one of the meta-messages found within the film. Without spoiling Handmaiden, a Clockwork Orange is a film with a similar meta-commentary directed at the audience. Instead, the erotic scenes give the intended effect without going full throttle. The result is a lesbian love story which accentuates emotion over physicality. Male directors have a tendency to get a little excited with lesbian love stories and turn an otherwise amazing movie into pornography. Blue is the Warmest Color is a recent example of a film which could have utilized a little restraint required of its subject matter. The central “love triangle” in the Handmaiden is given an air of realism due to the level of restraint. Most characters are never who they appear to be throughout the film. In fact, the three chapter structure of the film allows for the rare successful attempt at having more than one plot twist. Film veterans are likely the only group of people who can put the puzzle pieces together early on. The twists never come across as cheap gimmicks thanks to the cinematography. The gorgeous mise en scene is spellbinding with the amount of variation found in limited locations. In spite of the lavish designs, the camera never hides character ticks one can begin to hone in on. The Handmaiden contains a lot of the admirable traits one might in a Stanley Kubrick film (the Clockwork Orange reference is not entirely pulled out of a hat). However, the middle-aged Korean director is able to separate and maybe transcend Kubrick in his use of overt dark humor. Manchester by the Sea is another serious film which also successfully utilizes humor to create a humanistic story. Kubrick usually utilizes dark comedy for an entirely different effect. The Handmaiden is an absolutely must-see for those who appreciate cinematic greatness. Expand
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8
SpangleFeb 8, 2017
Woof. The Handmaiden is one perverse piece of eroticism. An erotic thriller that shows mastery of suspense akin to Alfred Hitchcock, but with a blending of eroticism akin to Brian De Palma, Paul Verhoeven, or Adrian Lyne, The Handmaiden is aWoof. The Handmaiden is one perverse piece of eroticism. An erotic thriller that shows mastery of suspense akin to Alfred Hitchcock, but with a blending of eroticism akin to Brian De Palma, Paul Verhoeven, or Adrian Lyne, The Handmaiden is a brutally violent and erotic film. Blending eroticism with extreme violence like that found in films such as Basic Instinct, The Handmaiden is a lovingly crafted film that is equal parts horrifying and titillating throughout its run time. Though it suffers from Park Chan-wook's films always feeling too distant and disconnected (personal opinion), The Handmaiden's stark beauty is impossible to deny and this is what lifts it above his other films for me. That said, the plot's suspense and thrills are secondary to the visual beauty of this film, which is striking.

Changing the novel's location from Victorian England to Korea under Japanese rule, Park Chan-wook's film still feels Victorian. With the regality and the building design often reflecting the castles and mansions one could find in Victorian England, The Handmaiden still shows that influence. Yet, of course, these buildings are entirely Japanese/Korean. The interior design reflects this in the home of Uncle Kouzuki (Cho Jin-woong), as it is entirely Japanese and feels like something one could find in a film by Akira Kurosawa. Lavish, regal, and alive in its own rights, these buildings are intricate, detailed, and absolutely lovely. The interior and the exterior are gorgeous with the camera finding just the right ways to capture this beauty. Often shooting from behind the trees, the home is usually somewhat obscured in the darkness, instilling an ominous feeling about this place. The trees add to the distance communicated by the entire film, as Park Chan-wook never fully let's you in and keeps you an arm's length away from the proceedings. This is captured in the cinematography, but even then, the visuals are strikingly gorgeous.

This production design is further felt by the aforementioned cinematography that takes full advantage of the beauty on display. Every shot is gorgeous and lovingly crafted. Not a single frame of this film feels out of place and really flows together and is entirely engrossing. This is a dark, disturbing film, but the visuals communicate an odd beauty and romance to this violence and disturbing level of sexuality. Of course, it is benefited by the framing and staging. Every moment is precise, definitive, and decisive. Not a foot is put wrong in this film where each actor communicating their character brilliantly and breathing life into the film with every step they take. It is the movement of the characters that makes this a full-fledged visual masterpiece as it manages to add yet another layer to visual approach of this film. Beyond the production design, staging, and cinematography, the costume design is also brilliant with each design representing the lavish and royal lifestyle of its characters. The design's are intricate, well put together, and lovely to look at throughout the film.

Though an erotic psychological thriller with a penchant for violence and disturbing moments, The Handmaiden is also darkly comedic. For instance, one such comedy scene finds Sook-hee (Kim Tae-ri) holding up Lady Hideko (Kim Min-hee) to prevent her from hanging herself. Upon learning distressing news, she runs off to cry only to quickly realize she has left her Ladyship strangling herself from the branch. Additionally, the multiple depictions of tentacles and the octopus in the basement are hysterical tongue-in-cheek additions by Park. And of course, the scene where Hideko has intercourse - supposedly - with a knife. Really off-the-wall, uncensored, and truly outrageous moments that add some darkly comic twists to a film that is dark, dark, dark.

Sexually, The Handmaiden is very much like a Verhoeven film. Though more pristine and less gritty, the scenes are shot to titillate. Park Chan-wook exploits his seemingly lesbian characters for the enjoyment of male viewers with classic lesbian sex scenes occurring that, regardless of their practicality, exist solely to entertain the male audience. This is very much like what people like De Palma or Verhoeven would include in their film, though it would be shot differently. Park Chan-wook's stages these sex scenes almost symmetrically at times and very rigidly. The scenes are tense, sensual, and almost regal is how they appear and look. It feels more like a Todd Haynes sex scene from Carol in this regard, as it feels pristine. Now, of course, Haynes' lesbian sex moment is far more withdrawn and focused on the passion and love. It is intimate, not exploitative. The Handmaiden exploits its characters' sexuality for the purposes of male entertainment, which is a shame.
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9
GinaKJan 29, 2017
Sophisticated, daring, and loads of fun, I don’t think this is a film for people who are easily offended and who don’t have a robust sense of humor. A woman “educated” by a creepy uncle joins forces with a woman brought up among criminals –Sophisticated, daring, and loads of fun, I don’t think this is a film for people who are easily offended and who don’t have a robust sense of humor. A woman “educated” by a creepy uncle joins forces with a woman brought up among criminals – and perhaps together they find true love. Meanwhile their story is told with delicious twists and among fantastically beautiful sets – a feast for the eye and for anyone with a deep sense of irony. Expand
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10
vishalgoradia27Nov 30, 2016
This movie was one hell of a ride. I will not discuss any part of the plot. But I will say this: Story - 10, Acting - 9, Direction and Cinematography - 9.5, Pacing - 9.5

The movie is an experience. The story, the time, the colors, the
This movie was one hell of a ride. I will not discuss any part of the plot. But I will say this: Story - 10, Acting - 9, Direction and Cinematography - 9.5, Pacing - 9.5

The movie is an experience. The story, the time, the colors, the music... Sublime.
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9
Dante_QuatreviJan 11, 2017
This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Je viens de voir The handmaiden de Park Chan-Wook

Je viens de me mettre au cinéma coréen. Le seul autre film coréen que j'ai regardé étant Last Train For Busan. Je pense que je n'en ai pas vu assez pour produire une analyse constructive mais je constate tout de même une profonde sensation d'exotisme et de fascination pour ce cinéma. 90% de ce que j'ai vu étant français ou américain.
Les processus de réflexion, les manières de jouer, les scénarios, les péripéties et les choix sont différents. C'est fabuleux à quel point le cinéma est un pont qui initie et invite a découvrir la culture d'un pays. J'ai adoré The handmaiden. Je ne revois jamais un film car je me dit toujours que déjà qu'il y en a beaucoup trop pour tous les voir, il ne faut pas s'attarder futilement sur certains (sauf si il y a un coup de foudre qui touche au soi profond). Cependant le film, par sa narration en trois actes qui montre différentes facettes des personnages dans de mêmes scènes filmées différemment à chaque fois, nous fait créer beaucoup de lien avec les personnages. Je me suis vraiment attaché avec amour et sincérité à cet univers si différent du mien et si fascinant (alors que c'est horrible !) et surtout aux personnages. J'aime la masculinité de Sookee. J'aime sa manière d'interagir avec son environnement. Elle est constamment filmée en train d'accomplir des choses manuelles et elle a une manière de procéder qui m'hypnotise. Les mouvements sont toujours un peu maladroit mais très déterminés. Toujours avec une fierté et une agressivité fougueuse dans ce petit corps qui au départ nous inspirait la fragilité. D'ailleurs au début du film alors que l'on ne connaissait pas Sookee, j'ai immédiatement préjugé par son comportement qu'on allait encore me servir un film poncé à la Hollywood où la femme est plus faible, moins sûr d'elle, gentille et préoccupée par des choses futiles. Ce n'est que pendant sa voix off de présentation que le film apporte véritablement une profondeur à ce personnage qui prend un tout autre aspect. Et dans ce corps à priori faible et féminin se cache une vigueur et une détermination camouflée. Elle joue d'ailleurs de cette apparence ce qui la rend encore plus intrigante. Un autre élément qui m'a frappé et m'a troublé pour plusieurs semaines je pense, c'est la sublimation du corps de la femme asiatique.

The handmaiden est le premier film que je vois qui magnifie les femmes typées d’extrême-orient. Elles sont filmées dans de si beaux plans, parfois symétriques comme des tableaux en mouvement (ou pas) et un certain grain que je ne saurais expliquer qui donne un réalisme historique et pictural.
Les femmes sont belles mais pas seulement physiquement. C'est la mise en scène et le scénario qui les subliment.

C'est d'ailleurs une mise en abyme assez rigolote. On regarde un film avec des scènes de sexe très visuelles et nombreuses avec une volonté de filmer ces actes pour faire avancer le scénario, pour la beauté de ces mouvements et créer de l'enjeu entre les personnages. Mais le film critique et place en antagoniste un pervers qui ne lis que des livres pornographiques avec un club créé autour de sa passion. On est donc des voyeurs complices de scènes très érotiques dans un film qui critique la perversion et l'objectification de la femme. Cela me fait penser à la scène d'Inglorious Bastards où les nazis regardent un film d'une violence inouïe que nous trouvons pitoyable et grotesque alors que nous regardons exactement la même chose avec le massacre du théâtre qui s'ensuit.

J'ai vu beaucoup de films de 2016 cette année. De très bon films. J'avais pourtant du mal à décider lequel serait l'élu de mon coeur comme meilleur film de 2016. Rogue One m'a fait le plus voyager, Your Name m'a fait presque pleuré d'émotion mais The handmaiden m'a tout simplement séduit et bien qu'un peu long, je le reverrai un jour. C'est donc mon film préféré de 2016 (surtout que c'est classe d'avoir comme favori un film coréen obscur pour la plèbe ;)
J'espère qu'elles vivront heureuses ensemble...
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8
nutterjrDec 22, 2017
The Handmaiden is in essence an intelligent tale of freedom and transformation delivered via an evocative delightfully twisty thriller in a colourful, sexually tense and often perverse story told expertly by Chan-wook Park.
1 of 1 users found this helpful10
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8
LeZeeAug 10, 2017
In the circle of romance, deceive and defraud.

Those who are into the world cinema, particularly the Korean, knows Park Chan-wook very well. But if you don't, then you must. His films are definitely for the grown ups. Like everybody else, my
In the circle of romance, deceive and defraud.

Those who are into the world cinema, particularly the Korean, knows Park Chan-wook very well. But if you don't, then you must. His films are definitely for the grown ups. Like everybody else, my admiration for his work has started a decade ago with the film 'Oldboy'. He had tried his luck in Hollywood with 'Stoker'. Despite a good entertainer, it was criticised. I love Park Chan-wook doing hundred masterpieces like this in Korea than trying to do one in Hollywood. His ability to turn the good book into a great flick was phenomenal. Here it goes another one. This was based on the British novel 'Fingersmith' by Sarah Waters. The story of an orphan woman who assigned to be a maid for a young rich woman who is living under the shadow of her uncle since she has no parents.

Yeah, I was expecting it, but I did not think it would be another masterpiece from the director. I even thought the ratings could be exaggerated, and the reviews from his die hard fans like Nolan's or QT's fans does. The timeline of the story was prior to Second World War Korea under the Japan rule. A perfect setting for such theme. The film opened like it is an average film. That's where all I got wrong. Or probably I judged it too soon. The storytelling was split into three parts and the first part was a bit mix of fun and like any film, introduction, the platform for the rest of the narration filled with surprises.

The young orphan Sook-hee was recruited by a thief who is planning to trick a young woman named Lady Hideko with all the wealth left behind by her parents. The only obstacle for him is her uncle, a guardian. So Sook-hee becomes close to her. More than she had expected, but their plan is working. Now they have to wait for the perfect moment for a perfect strike. When it arrives, an unexpected twist takes the tale to go back to where the film originally had started. But even further earlier and this time, the perspective of the story was from the Lady Hdeko.

❝So even if my love for you leads me to ruin, don't pity me.❞

So, with that flashback, the second part begins. But literally it was a series of twist, that keep explaining us in another angle of the whole scenario I had witnessed in the previous part. Believe me, I have never seen such a long twist before. I was like unmoved for that entire segment. One of the best things I have ever in a film. The praise must go to the author, but the director and his actors as well did a fine job. There's a twist in every scene. So, for that one must pay close attention to the first part, despite slow moving story.

But above all, what I'm surprised was I did not know it was a lesbian film. Moreover, I did not think it could have bold scenes for such theme. Everything seemed perfect. I mean the erotic parts are sensual, but very artistic than unnecessary disturbance. Mainly because of stronger hold of the story narration than anything else. Even the pace picks up, like a crazy speed. Everything about the film you would learn in this section. All the secrets of the past revealed and what might comes are still kept under mysterious for the third and final part.

The most awaited, the conclusion part begins forth. For everything we saw so far, what might come after makes this film at its best. Just like the mid part, this is also full of twists. Because it will going to tell who ends where and what they get. Over two hours long film, and every frame are worth. The casting was best and so the setting of the 1930s Korea. Especially I must applaud the filmmaker's effort to turn the original setting from Europe to East Asia. It was great, but still now and then you can see the influence of the original source. I mean western culture, names, architect references which might have come from the book.

Not just the lesbian or a love triangle story, but something like a circle of love with deceive and defraud. You can notice that in the film poster with four main characters. So when it has a multiple strings attached, you could expect surprises/twists from each angle and it gives that more the convincingly. Put this into your must see list. This is not the first screen adaptation, but surely the best so far. Now we can expect a European or a Hollywood project in a big scale soon. Believe me the Oscars would pour in, because it's that kind of story. Highly recommended!

8/10
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8
Meth-dudeApr 24, 2019
With gorgeous cinematography, great acting performances a wonderfully told and interesting story and wild plot twists, Chan-wook Park knocks it out of the park with this beautiful film.
1 of 1 users found this helpful10
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10
RoykaMay 29, 2020
A korean movie that even beats Parasite. Absolutely amazing!!! One of the best movies I've ever seen
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10
MoonshineGhoulOct 21, 2016
Amazing directing, beautiful cinematography and atmosphere, strong performances, and an impressive twisty script. [A] beautiful, groundbreaking, thrilling, "sexy as hell" film that is so close to a masterpiece.
10 of 11 users found this helpful101
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8
podunk411Oct 28, 2016
Really cool adaptation of Sarah Water's Fingersmith. I loved the book and the BBC adaptation way back when. Park's version definitely takes some liberties with the plot, and in some ways better than the original. However he also goes a bitReally cool adaptation of Sarah Water's Fingersmith. I loved the book and the BBC adaptation way back when. Park's version definitely takes some liberties with the plot, and in some ways better than the original. However he also goes a bit graphic, kinky & gratuitous (e.g. you can tell it's a dude directing with some key sex scenes) and things get almost comic-booky, but I still totally enjoyed it and he definitely captures the solid romance that underlies Fingersmith. There's some real comedy in there as well which was totally surprising and perfect. The cinematography was absolutely stunning. If you have a chance to see this movie in theaters, do it. Expand
5 of 6 users found this helpful51
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10
3-16-2016Oct 21, 2016
A near-perfect Korean melodrama masterfully directed by Oldboy's Park Chan-wook and wonderfully adapted from the British novel "Fingersmith", The Handmaiden boasts a terrific cast (led by Kim Min‑hee & Tae Ri Kim), an absolutely beautifulA near-perfect Korean melodrama masterfully directed by Oldboy's Park Chan-wook and wonderfully adapted from the British novel "Fingersmith", The Handmaiden boasts a terrific cast (led by Kim Min‑hee & Tae Ri Kim), an absolutely beautiful cinematography, and many twists and turns you will won't see coming. The long runtime may be a turn-off for some, but it feels very deserved and you never want it to end. Surely one of the best movies of the year. Expand
3 of 4 users found this helpful31
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10
DasGebargelJan 16, 2017
this movie is incredibly empowering, smartly written, well-acted, insanely well-directed, gorgeously shot and scored, and, most of all, very very entertaining.
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8
BariscanBozkurtOct 25, 2016
Uzun bir zamandan sonra tekrardan bir filmin dramını bu kadar etkileyici buldum. Film her ne kadar erotik psikolojik-gerilim olarak çıksa da bunun ötesinde bir iş koymuş ortaya. Açıkçası filmlerde gereksiz erotik sahneler gördüğümde oUzun bir zamandan sonra tekrardan bir filmin dramını bu kadar etkileyici buldum. Film her ne kadar erotik psikolojik-gerilim olarak çıksa da bunun ötesinde bir iş koymuş ortaya. Açıkçası filmlerde gereksiz erotik sahneler gördüğümde o sahneleri geçen biriyim. Bu yüzden yönetmeni sevsem de film için pek beklentiye girmemiştim. Ama filmi izleyince gördüm ki ortaya gerçekten iyi bir iş koymuş. Entrikalarla dolu güzel bir hikâye, kaliteli sinematografi ve muazzam müziklerle seyir keyfi yüksek bir film oluşturmuş. Film herkesin kaldırabileceği bir film değil, bu yüzden herkese tavsiye edemeyeceğim. Ama daha önce Chan-wook Park'ın bir filmini izleyip sevdiyseniz bu filmi mutlaka tavsiye ederim.

Ayrıca filmin Japon erotik fantezisinin ne kadar iğrenç olduğunu gözler önüne sermesi de ayrı güzeldi. Ben de hepsini yakmak isterdim.
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9
katezoeJun 25, 2020
Stunning film with gorgeous cinematography, set design and costumes. A fascinating tale of love and eroticism.
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9
keanexOct 15, 2020
This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. A movie by famed Oldboy director, The Handmaiden has many twists and turns that give the movie similar suspense, drama, and surprise. A film filled with treachory, unexpected romance, and just deserts for some involved. The Handmaiden is told in 3 parts, with the first part being the set-up, the second part exposing the double-trickery, and the third, showing the conniving spirit of two women. It's a fantastic movie, one with Oldboy's DNA all over it. While the story isn't the same, the feeling of mystery is felt throughout in similar fashion. Expand
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10
DeanomiteJan 8, 2020
There is a great deal of talented work coming from South Korea the last decade or so, it reminds me of Akira Kurosawa talking about how in a movie, every shot should be a beautiful painting. That is what I thought of while watching thisThere is a great deal of talented work coming from South Korea the last decade or so, it reminds me of Akira Kurosawa talking about how in a movie, every shot should be a beautiful painting. That is what I thought of while watching this beautiful movie, every moment was beautiful in itself. The performances are all very natural and it feels like going on a journey of discovery. It reminded me very much of Blue Is The Warmest Color and that is a wonderful thing. Expand
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9
BITESCREENJun 21, 2017
Nach dem britisch-amerikanischen Stoker kehrt Old Boy-Regisseur Park Chan-wook mit Die Taschendiebin in seine Heimat Korea zurück – erforscht aber auch hier Gier und Begierden der ländlichen Oberschicht: In den 30er Jahren schleicht sich eineNach dem britisch-amerikanischen Stoker kehrt Old Boy-Regisseur Park Chan-wook mit Die Taschendiebin in seine Heimat Korea zurück – erforscht aber auch hier Gier und Begierden der ländlichen Oberschicht: In den 30er Jahren schleicht sich eine hübsche Betrügerin im Auftrag eines Heiratsschwindlers als Dienerin in den Haushalt eines zwielichtigen Büchersammlers – um die junge Dame des Hauses für die finale Verführung weichzukochen. Deren erotische Aura jedoch boykottiert den perfiden Plan – und Hostess und Herrin verlieren sich in einer fatalen Affäre. Was folgt, ist mitnichten nur ein knisternder Erotik-Thriller – sondern vor allem ein perfekt inszenierter, mehr als doppelbödiger Drehbuch-Geniestreich in drei epischen Akten. Trotzdem ist der überlange Film durch Chan-wooks westliche Prägung immer kurzweilig – und sieht nebenbei auch ganz fantastisch aus. Expand
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9
AKthaBeastAug 27, 2018
This movie is perverted and classy at the same time with plot points that are predictable for some but unpredictable for most.
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10
LegitSaltAug 22, 2020
This movie is by far one of the smartest and as most well-made movies of the last decade, and illustrate's the peak of global cinema. Not only is this movie intricately crafted and intensely rewarding, but it has an incredible amount ofThis movie is by far one of the smartest and as most well-made movies of the last decade, and illustrate's the peak of global cinema. Not only is this movie intricately crafted and intensely rewarding, but it has an incredible amount of content to offer and is incredibly visceral. The plot is razor-sharp, and by the movie's final resolution, every twist feels earned and satisfying. The flick runs the gambit on the content that it features, ranging from erotic to dramatic to gory, never overly dwelling on any one subject but also not shying away from showing the extent of abuse and ecstasy of the character's journeys.

The movie's plot structure is one of great deception, but also great pay off. The first act allows for an introduction to the setting and most of the characters and, while it feels rushed and slightly clunky, this is by design, setting up for the later development of the characters and setting in the following acts. From this point on, the plot turns back on itself, seeming to undo everything already established; this, however, is also revealed to be somewhat of a ruse as the plot ties knots in itself, introducing new dynamics and histories to previously introduced characters. Despite its constant weaving, the movie ultimately plays fair and gives the viewer exactly what they need to understand the characters' motivations and the story's direction. The final act of the film is filled with the height of the film's eroticism and violence tieing up all the loose ends in a satisfactory manner. The tension builds and builds, interspersed with scenes of visceral love and passion, finally ending in a way that brings back many of the introduced elements. While some of the reincorporation is obvious, others are callbacks to moments where the viewer's attention was encapsulated by everything else happening on screen.

Aside from the structure, the movie also excels in its presentation of its characters and story. The characters are all very deceitful and multifaceted, each having their independent drives that constantly clash, creating the tension that serves to fuel the movie's progression. The acting was spellbinding and often even mesmerizing, Tae-Ri Kim (who played the handmaiden) had so much emotion, compassion, and love imbued within her actions that it was hard to imagine her, existing outside of her character. Min-Hee Kim (Lady Hideko) was similarly emotionally volatile, but hers had an added layer of intricacy due to her character's history of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. Both the handmaiden and Lady Hideko are objectified and toyed around for much of the film, but this changes once they come into themselves and realize the extent of their potential empowerment. While the movie is initially about men extorting women, it quickly turns in to women using their perceived subjugation to attain dominance in a hierarchy. The film's main antagonist, Count Fujiwara (played by Jung-woo Ha), is the driving force of the film, and the resolution to his character arc is one the most satisfying of the film.

The movie, explicitly about the changing dynamics of a subset of characters, is more broadly a look at the relations between Japan and Korea, especially during the Japanese occupation of Korea. Through this lens, the film explores identity and heritage and how the inherited versions of these can impact the way we approach and live our lives. Many of the characters go to great lengths to disown their Korean heritage because, at the time, the Japanese were seen to be the superior culture. To this extent, many of the characters destroy parts of themselves to put on a more socially conforming facade, often doing irreversible damage that causes lasting impacts. The movie suggests that in a climate of heightened deception and discrimination, staying true to one's character and beliefs is one of the most healthy things one can do. The characters' admiration of the traditional Japanese books, specifically during the auction scenes, shows how demented the Korean characters' self-effacement has become within the purview of the film's world. That the wealthy elites hold forged pornographic works to a higher standard than they do the Koreans that posses them is the sole illustrator of this fact.

The Handmaiden is thought-provoking sensual, but most of all rewarding; despite being over 2.5 hours, I felt constantly engrossed and on the edge of my seat. I would also like to note that the film's depiction of mental health and suicide is rather nuanced and authentic, i.e. they are influenced by the abuse/actions of others and rarely exist solely in a vacuum. Specifically, this is shown when the aunt's suicide was, in reality, a murder. I would recommend this movie to anyone, it has something for everyone and provides more than could ever be asked for.
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10
MehvaOct 5, 2019
از نظر من عالی بود...! هیچ فیلمی تو این سبک نیست که بتونه باهاش رقابت کنه..
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