Ah-ga-ssi – The Handmaiden

I wasn’t expecting to laugh as much as I did in this tale of grifters, oppression and eroticism.

Director Chan-wook Park has reframed this story from Victorian England to 1930s Japanese-occupied Korea, and it looks gorgeous. It’s clever in the way it uses flashbacks and replays scenes from different viewpoints, gradually letting the audience in on the twists and turns of the relationships and plot. For there are twists a-plenty.

I’ll be honest and say that the final third didn’t quite keep up the suspense, but by then I was with the characters and wanted to see how things played out for them. I didn’t feel like I had been sitting in the cinema for 2 and a half hours either.

Personally I didn’t need to see as much of the intimate scenes as we were shown – not through any sense of prudery or feeling uncomfortable, but because I felt it wasn’t required. The actors clearly yet delicately show us their feelings for each other, and once this has been established, the rest feels like a touch of unnecessary voyeurism.

A beautiful, sometimes over-the-top creation – would we expect anything less from Chan-wook Park?

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