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The Handmaiden

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Just go. Go and see The Handmaiden. To describe the film in any detail could temper it for you. This is a film that benefits from knowing as little about it as possible. So stop reading this review, go to the website for your local moving picture venue and find a suitable time to see it.

Still here? Alright, what CAN I tell you? In the vaguest terms possible, Park Chan-Wook’s latest film is an exquisite, sumptuous, erotic portrayal of an intriguing, labyrinthine tale. Set during the Japanese occupation of Korea, Park’s adaptation of Sarah Waters’ novel Fingersmith explores (among other things) identity, friendship, love and sexuality, through gorgeous production design and an intricate visual pattern that demonstrates an intensely intelligent use of cinema. Jae-bum Kim and Sang-beom Kim’s edits are carefully spaced to reveal key pieces of information, Chung-Hoon Chung’s cinematography precisely explores Seong-hie Ryu’s beautiful sets, while the performances of the whole cast are note perfect, balancing inner turmoil with outer expression. Park balances multiple tones across the film, including excitement and sorrow, narrative wit and slapstick humour, erotic intrigue and outright horror. Do yourself a favour and make a point of seeing what is likely to be one of this year’s best films. Come on, what are you waiting for?

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