One of this year’s egregious Oscar nominations came with the omission of The Handmaiden, director Park Chan-wook’s visually stunning adaptation of Sarah Waters’ novel Fingersmith. Cinephiles can now check out the film at their leisure, as the film has been released on DVD via Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
Set in 1930s colonial Korea, the narrative centers on Sook-Hee (Kim Tae-ri), a woman who conspires with a con artist (Jung-Woo Ha) to swindle a Japanese woman (Min-hee Kim) from her inheritance. Sook-Hee becomes the rich woman’s handmaiden, and the pair develop a gradual attraction for on another.
Director Park, whose twist-laden takes on family are borne to full effect with Oldboy and Stoker, paints his finest masterpiece with The Handmaiden. Although it runs at 145 minutes, the movie never drags thanks to the director’s seductively fluid camerawork and attention to detail. The story also takes the point of view from the three main characters, thus always keeping viewers on their toes. Both Kim Tae-ri and Min-Hee Kim give inspired performances, and a huge part of The Handmaiden’s success centers on their finely tuned work.
Although the DVD doesn’t come with special features (hopefully a deluxe edition will come out down the road), The Handmaiden is still worth grabbing, especially if you’re a fan of cinema.