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June 06, 2016

THE HANDMAIDEN — CANNES 2016

Handmaiden PosterCannes, France —Korean filmmaker Park Chan-Wook delighted critics and festival audiences in Cannes with his lushly erotic, BDSM-tinged, period drama of conspiracy and revenge. Formal production designs and keen cinematography drink in dynamic performances (by Kim Min-Hee and Kim Tae-Ri) teeming with an urgent lesbian sensuality. The ensemble performances are flawless.

“The Handmaiden” turned up the heat on the Riviera just when cool winds were blowing across the yacht-dotted shoreline. The film, set in ‘30s era Korea during the Japanese occupation, might not have been a shoe-in for the Palme but you can bet audiences will go back for repeated viewings of this artfully composed film so full of sensual suspense and intrigue.

This baroque narrative is set in Korea under Japanese rule during the early-to- mid 20th century. Sookee (played by Tae Ri Kim), a skilled pickpocket, is hired to live with her uncle Kouzuki (Jin-woong Jo) on his lavish estate to take part in a scheme that involves her serving as a handmaiden to Kouzuki's Japanese heiress wife Lady Hideki (Min-hee Kim). Erotic, social, emotional and political intrigue follow. "The Handmaiden" features one of the most outrageous scenes of oral gratification ever committed to film (pornography included). Stunning.

During its opening week in Korea, "The Handmaiden" set a new record for an R-rated film. More than 1.8 million tickets were sold.

You don’t want to miss this one.

Handmaiden2

Rated R. 145 mins. (A) (Five stars — out of five / no halves)

Cannes 69 Complete from Cole Smithey on Vimeo.

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