vicky’s review published on Letterboxd:
Dived into this film without having any knowledge whatsoever of the plot because I wanted to allow myself to harbour a visceral experience, and boy was I not disappointed.
This, without a doubt, is a gorgeously intoxicating work of art, one that portrays a brutally compelling love story while also offering a myriad of other matters like crime, lies, deception, usually taboo subjects, Korean history, and a brilliantly dark ode to women’s desire and autonomy.
A distinctive quality I noticed was that while all the other ingredients to construct a Park Chan-wook classic, like explicit sexual scenes, dark humour, flawed characters, and an obsessive attention to detail that renders each scene to look like a real life painting, this film however lacks the violence and unbearable cruelty found in the rest of his films, opting to a more intimate and unhurried approach of storytelling. Paralleling it with the impressive camerawork and editing that cuts so seamlessly with each scene, it unravels and re-unravels its narrative in a bewitching and satisfying manner, often making the audience crave for it more and more as the story heightens and falls.
And just like that, The Handmaiden proves itself to be paramount to all the other crime drama films. It is a film to be cherished: for the jaw-dropping gall of its ambition and for the what-the-fuck brazenness of its individuality. Along with the exceptional visual opulence and Park’s attention to details, it allows a good script to flow along the weaving of different themes together to create one that bears an intricately textured silk cloth, soft and perfect and grandiose, transcending it to a poetic masterpiece that will be remembered for ages to come.