2016: #4 The Handmaiden


Directed by
: Park Chan-wook
Written by: Park Chan-wook and Chung Seo-kyung
Based on: “Fingersmith” by Sarah Waters
Starring: Kim Min-hee, Ha Jung-woo, Cho Jin-woong, and Kim Tae-ri
Distributor: Magnolia Pictures
Country: South Korea
Language: Korean and Japanese
Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 144 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Date released: 10/28/2016
Date seen: 10/20/2016
Worldwide Box Office Gross: $2 Million
# of Oscar nominations: 0
# of Golden Stake Nominations: 4 (Art Direction, Score, Actor, and Adapted Screenplay)
# of Golden Stakes Won: 2 (Art Direction and Adapted Screenplay)

I don’t know that The Handmaiden is the deepest movie on this top ten list but it’s certainly the most entertaining, or at least the most playful.  The film rests on a solid story and on characters that feel real and fleshed out, but it’s also interested in being a twisty and wild ride that is just a joy to watch.  The film is based on a contemporary novel set in Victorian England but transplanted to Japanese occupied Korea and feigns being an austere costume drama at first glance, but as it goes on and the layers of the onion that is the film’s central confidence scheme become revealed it becomes clear that the film is much more in keeping with Park Chan-wook’s previous wilder films.  The result is a Park Chan-wook film that feels a lot stronger and more ambitious than a lot of his earlier work but one that retains a lot of his usual energies and perversities.  It is quickly going to become one of my go-to recommendations as a sort of accessible arthouse movie, at least for audiences that I know will be down for some of its occasional extremities.

#5 Year End Honors #3