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Rated 3.15 stars
by 305 people

ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Love, Betrayal and Revenge
by Betty Jo Tucker

Set in Korea during the 1930s, The Handmaiden serves up a spellbinding tale of love, betrayal and revenge. It’s based on “Fingersmith,” a novel by Sarah Waters, which was adapted previously as a television mini-series for the BBC. But this time, everything seems much edgier -- and the relationship between the heiress and her new maid grows more overtly sensual as they get to know one another.

“The Handmaiden” reveals great pain.

Betrayal, the sin -- and the stain.

While watching, please keep a sharp eye.

For what you see might be a lie.


This movie filmed with intriguing hues

refrains from giving many clues.

It keeps us guessing all the while

but never lacks a stunning style.


A Lady loves her maid brand new.

But Sooh-kee has a job to do.

She’s placed there by an evil guy

to help him and to be his spy.


Sooh-kee soon falls for her Lady

and hates to do things so shady.

Guess what happens to these two friends?

Plenty before the story ends!

Both actresses capture our interest with their compelling performances. Kim Tae-ri (Lock Out) endows handmaiden Sooh-Kee, a trained pickpocket, with a convincing combination of shyness, spunk and guilt (resulting from agreeing to spy on someone she cares about.) Min-hee Kim (Helpless) gives Lady Hikedo a regal, mysterious aura.

Count Fujiwara, the man who puts these women together for his nefarious criminal purposes, is played to villainous perfection by Jung-woo Ha (The Berlin Files). And Jin-woong Jo (Assassination) seems to relish his role as Lady Hikedo’s nasty uncle, a man forcing his niece to help him with his pornographic obsession.

I think that’s enough to reveal about the plot. This is one of those movies where knowing too much about it before seeing the film could ruin things for you. However, be advised that the sex scenes here are lengthy and graphic. Plus, strong sexual dialogue and nudity abound in key sequences.

Directed by Korea’s Chan-wook Park (Old Boy), who also co-wrote the screenplay adaptation with Seo-Kyung Chung, The Handmaiden tells a terrific -- though overlong -- story, one with many tricky surprises along the way.          

When I trust someone I do it without doubt or reservation. And then I work on a Plan B. --- Joyce Rachelle

Stab the body and it heals, but injure the heart and the wound lasts a lifetime. --- Mineko Iwasaki

(Released by Amazon Studios. Not rated by MPAA.)

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