Movie Review: Oldboy director Park Chan-wook gets romantic (really!) with The Handmaiden

Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden is a fiendishly clever, sinfully funny con-job melodrama, the kind that keeps yanking the rug out from under everyone on screen and off. If that’s all the film was, it would still be a must-see, at least for those who don’t mind a little graphic violence and kinky sex to go with their misdirection. But for all its twists, turns, and betrayals, the most shocking thing about the film is that it’s also, quite possibly and quite improbably, the year’s most genuinely romantic movie. That’s right: The extreme South Korean director of Oldboy and Stoker has made a love story, one where the lovers aren’t related or vampires or anything! To get to it, you just have to peel back all the layers of deception, just like the characters do.

The movie is based on Sarah Waters’ 2002 novel …

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