The Handmaiden

Director: Park Chan-Wook
Year Released: 2016
Rating: 2.0

Orphan/pickpocket Sook-Hee (Kim Tae-Ri) is recruited by sleazy Fujiwara (Ha Jung-Woo) to work as a maid for wealthy Hideko (Kim Min-Hee) and help him seduce her, marry her and then dump her off at an insane asylum ... except his plan turns out to be even more insidious. Follows the recent trend of movies about female lovers facing difficulties (including Carol, Blue Is the Warmest Color, Beyond the Hills), but it's over-stated (and obvious), sometimes bordering on comical: Park's history of being a somewhat artsy exploitation director clashes with his austere material (it's loosely based on Fingersmith by Sarah Waters), so it flip-flops between trying to be serious ... and having fingers being cut off and gaudy sex-scenes (scissoring! Ben Wa balls! lady fluid!). The bipolar nature of the presentation is jarring and silly ... at least Kechiche and Mungiu kept the tone consistent.