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The Handmaiden: Director’s Cut

Never did they expect to get into a controversial relationship… 

Year: 2016 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 18 Cert – Not suitable for under 18s 
Subtitles: It is expected that this film is fully subtitled. 
Directed by Chan-wook Park 
Starring: Min-hee Kim, Tae-ri Kim, Jung-woo Ha 
An image from The Handmaiden: Director’s Cut

Review:

Park Chan-wook latest masterpiece The Handmaiden is a visually stunning, transgressive and intoxicating portrayal of female strength and sexual liberation in a male-dominated society. Set in 1930s South Korea during the Japanese rule, The Handmaiden follows the story of Sook-hee, a young handmaiden who agrees to collaborate with conman Count Fujiwara to trick the young, rich heiress Lady Hideko into marrying him as to inherit her family’s wealth and then lock her up in a mental institution. Sook-hee, however, as sexual tension begins to get in the way of her professional relationship with Lady Hideko, finds herself divided as she is faced with the decision to either betray Lady Hideko, for whom she is beginning to develop romantic and sexual feelings, or stick to the original plan as agreed with Count Fujimara. With Chung Chung-Hoo’s mesmerizing cinematography and Ryu Seong-hee’s brilliant art direction, it’s impossible to deny the magnificence of Park Chan-wook’s work. Two and a half hours of running time do not hinder the film from successfully captivating our undivided attention, with each sequence being a brief exhibition of cinematic mastery and audacious visual extravagance. The Handmaiden represents, in its visual grandeur, an overt and unashamed exploration and celebration of female sexuality without the participation of a male character or an overlooking male gaze.

Marta Meazza

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Screenings of this film:

2017/2018 Autumn Term (digital)