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The Handmaiden

Lady Hideko lives with her very rich uncle who is into antique books. The Count, who befriends the Uncle with a proposition regarding forging antique books, secretly plots with Lady Hideko to get married and take the Uncle’s money. To help in this, the Count enlists the help of Sook-Hee, who herself has a history of being a pickpocket, by getting her a position as a handmaiden to Lady Hideko. This film is art at its best. The story is told in three parts – the first two parts tell the story from the perspective of Lady Hideko and Hook-See, respectively. The story constantly loops back on itself and reveals its depth slowly via a number of plot twists and surprises; it is brilliant screenwriting. The film is beautiful to look at – the camera angles, lighting, costumes are all amazing. The chemistry between the two female leads crackles, and the acting overall is superb. One series of scenes involving Lady Hideko reading from erotic texts are spellbinding. The movie is also very funny in a darkly humorous way. The best way to describe it to myself was imagining David Lynch and Quentin Tarantino sitting together in a room and writing a script. Great big thumbs up from me – the movie soars in all respects. Just as a warning, there is a lot of sex and nudity in the film. But it helps make the film work as well as it does.

About Gary Burkholder

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