Magazine article New Internationalist

The Handmaiden

Magazine article New Internationalist

The Handmaiden

Article excerpt

The Handmaiden (145 minutes)

directed and co-written by Park Chan-wook

Japanese soldiers march past a group of women and howling babies on a street corner. A young woman hands over a baby, and another - her sister? - cries that it should be her leaving. Where? To become a maid in a distant country house. Is the sister selfless and anxious, or angry and jealous? This, though, is a film where little is what it seems to be.

The maid is in fact a fingersmith, or pickpocket, brought up by a baby-farmer and in league with a counterfeiter and fake aristocrat. He, she believes, plans to seduce the lady of the house for her inheritance, from under the nose of her wicked uncle, who himself plans to marry his niece for her money.

You may recognize the corny plot - from Fingersmith, Welsh novelist Sarah Waters' clever, twisting, gripping, Victorian-era tale of patriarchy and liberation. …

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