Derik Badman's Journal

2020-11-30 09:19

Month's ago someone at work recommended Park Chan-Wook's The Handmaiden to me. I didn't know their tastes well enough to be sure whether to trust in their opinion or not, so I added to it to my watch list and then forgot about it. Only later, after watching some Hong Sang-Soo films and becoming a fan of Kim Min-Hee did I realize that she was the star of the film. And so I finally watched it because of that, and... it was ok. I might not have finished it if I weren't a fan of the lead actor. The structure of the film is one of those hinged narratives that uses multiple perspectives to create suspense and surprise. In that respect it worked, though none of it felt like it had any more depth than a mirror. The first part of the movie shows us a portion of the plot primarily from one character's perspective (it is not super rigorous about this, especially in the second part), then at a shocking moment it rewinds (not literally) and shows us the timeline again from a different character's perspective, but this time we realize how much information the first part was leaving out. It is not even that the first part leaves out information because the focalizing character isn't privy to it, rather it just leaves out information so we could have that shocking moment at the end of the first part. The device feels like a trick, perhaps to me just because it doesn't seem to follow its own rules. The movie is lush and filmed in a conventionally stylish but unostentatious way. Min-Hee is excellent in it, playing the part of a character that is herself playing a few parts inside the narrative.