What is it with Korean movies? The Handmaiden

. 2 min read

You know, a part of me feels bad for ending the Korean movie article series with a film that isn't the best there is. It's not Park's best, and definitely not the best Korean movie ever. (The title might just go to Time by Kim Ki-duk, a movie that we covered on Monday.) But it's a relatively new movie, and it's rated among IMBd's Top 250 list, so I decided to include it. (Let it be noted that Park's Old Boy is way higher on that same list.)

The Handmaiden (2016) is about a rich Japanese heiress, her dominative and pervert uncle-in-law, a Korean con artist planning to seduce her and take her money, and a young woman also in the plot, taking the job of a handmaid in the heiress's estate. The movie is divided in three parts, each of which reveal a new side to the story, a twist of a kind, when the viewer gradually finds out who is actually tricking whom.

This all seems promising, put like this, but I thought the movie was quite predictable. When it comes to the tricking, first it's thought to be the Korean mand and the handmaid; then comes the first twist, revealing the "real" plotters; and then the second twist, when the tables are turned again. But the true hoax isn't plotted by any of the characters or against any of them - the true con artist is Park himself, and the person being conned is the viewer. Or so Park apparently had tried, and I suppose he could have succeeded, had he used less foreseeable twists.

Nevertheless, the movie emphasizes on listening to your conscious and choosing love over money, creating your own life, and escaping any prisons, physical and mental, that have confined your life. You don't have to marry your disgusting uncle, nor kill yourself to escape it. And you don't have to be heterosexual to live a happy life. You can break all and any rules you've been subjected to in your life, by you or someone else. You don't have to spend your days pressing your forehead on the window and dreaming of the world outside.

You can break the mold. You can create any life you want for yourself.

I think that's the most fundamental lesson to be learned from the movie - more fundamental than conning is wrong or all men are evil or listen to your heart. The Korean man and the Japanese uncle try to set the rules for the other characters, who then realize they don't have to do what they're told by others.

They only have to do what they're told by themselves.