Belfast Telegraph

The Handmaiden: Twists aplenty in charged thriller

 

By Damon Smith

Pickpocket Sook-hee (Kim Tae-ri) has been raised as a thief since birth. She is hired by wily con artist Fujiwara (Ha Jung-woo), who has set his sights on the vast fortune of reclusive heiress Lady Izumi Hideko (Kim Min-hee). She lives in a mansion, where her movements are closely monitored by her uncle Kouzuki (Cho Jin-woong).

Fujiwara poses as a Japanese Count and Sook-hee gains a position as a young handmaiden in Lady Hideko's household. Sook-hee uses her wiles to worm her way into her mistress' affections with the intention of carrying out Fujiwara's despicable scheme.

However, the young handmaiden unexpectedly develops deep feelings for Hideko and aligns herself with the lady of the house. They hatch a plan to turn the tables on Fujiwara and give him a dose of his medicine.

The Handmaiden is a visually sumptuous, erotically charged thriller set against the turbulent backdrop of the Japanese occupation of Thirties Korea.

Director Park Chan-wook draws inspiration from Sarah Waters' novel Fingersmith for his intricate screenplay, which unfolds in three parts and conceals numerous lip-smacking twists.

Four stars

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