London Film Festival Day 3: La La Land, The Handmaiden & American Honey

2. The Handmaiden

La La Land Ryan Gosling Emma Stone
CJ Entertainment

Park Chan-wook (Oldboy, Stoker) returns with another demented picture sure to please his legion of fans, a beautifully filmed, surprisingly hilarious erotic thriller with three terrific central performances.

It's tough to say too much about the movie without giving something crucial away, but it revolves around a con-man (Ha Jung-woo) hiring a pickpocket (Kim Tae-ri) to become the maid of a mentally unstable heiress (Kim Min-hee) and help him steal away her fortune. Things naturally don't quite go according to plan.

This is a sumptuous film in every way, from the art direction through to gorgeous lensing by Park's regular cinematographer Chung Chung-hoon, but it's also superbly scripted, with deep characterisation and an incredibly gripping, if occasionally confusing, plot.

There are a ton of devilish plot twists that re-arrange the context of prior scenes in fascinating ways, and just when you think you have it all pegged, Park fields out yet another off-the-wall revelation. Despite its potential to be unsavorily melodramatic, the film actually remains exceedingly robust, even classy throughout, with Park's usual deference for shocking moments continuing in jaw-dropping fashion.

Rating: Arguably one of the year's best films so far, The Handmaiden is another winner from one of South Korea's finest exports. There's simply nothing else like it out there. 8/10


Stay at home dad who spends as much time teaching his kids the merits of Martin Scorsese as possible (against the missus' wishes). General video game, TV and film nut. Occasional sports fan. Full time loon.