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Handmaiden (The)

South Korea, Korean, 141 mins

Original Title

  • Director: Chan-wook Park
  • Writer: Sarah Waters
  • Producer: Syd Lim; Chan-wook Park

CGiii Comment

Quite simply...a masterclass in filmmaking.
Suspense, intrigue, perversion, eroticism and humour...all encapsulated into a beautifully painted, exquisitely realised canvas. Yes, the cinematography is resplendant. Yes, the production design is faultless. The lighting...the music...everything, done right!
At the heart is a love-story...future filmmakers of lesbiana should watch, learn and take extensive notes. This is how you do a lesbian sex scene...to hell with feminist, lesbian porn...this is erotica in its highest form.
With a running time of 140 minutes, there is never a dull moment...there are a few moments that will befuddle and confuse...be patient, the structure of the film reveals - in time - all.
And...what a way to end a film! Feminist pornographers will be reeling...because it was made by a man!


The(ir) Blurb...

1930s Korea, in the period of Japanese occupation, a new girl (Sookee) is hired as a handmaiden to a Japanese heiress (Hideko) who lives a secluded life on a large countryside estate with her domineering Uncle (Kouzuki). But the maid has a secret. She is a pickpocket recruited by a swindler posing as a Japanese Count to help him seduce the Lady to elope with him, rob her of her fortune, and lock her up in a madhouse. The plan seems to proceed according to plan until Sookee and Hideko discover some unexpected emotions.
A modernized Korean version of Sarah Waters' novel, Fingersmith.
Magnolia Pictures
Formed in 2001, Magnolia Pictures specializes in releasing both foreign and independent film. The company is owned by Todd Wagner and Mark Cuban, and is a subsidiary of 2929 Entertainment. Some of Magnolia’s past LGBTQ-inclusive releases include Life Partners (2014) and Tangerine (2015). In 2016, Magnolia released the Korean import The Handmaiden, a psychological thriller that is ultimately a love story between a Korean handmaiden and a Japanese noblewoman. The Handmaiden was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award, and was the highest grossing film released by Magnolia that year. The studio also distributed the film Viva last year, a coming of age story about a young drag performer in Cuba and his relationship with his estranged father. Other queer inclusive content include the documentary Tickled.

Cast & Characters

Jung-woo Ha as Count Fujiwara;
Jin-woong Jo as Uncle Kouzuki;
Min-hee Kim as Lady Hideko;
Tae-ri Kim as Sook-Hee;
Hae-suk Kim as Miss Sasaki;
So-ri Moon as Aunt of Lady Hideko;
Si-yeon Ha as Maid 3;
Ha-na Han as Junko;
Ha-dam Jeong as Maid 5;
Eun-hyung Jo as Young Hideko;
Eun-yeong Kim as Maid 4;
In-woo Kim as Audience Member;
Dong-hwi Lee as Goo-gai;
Kyu-jung Lee as Maid 1;
Yong-nyeo Lee as Bok-soon

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