This story is told by writer-director Im Sang-soo with cool, elegant cinematography and sinuous visual movements. The dominant mood is gothic, with the persistent sadomasochistic undertones that seem inescapable in so much Korean cinema. Why is that? The situation is obviously explosive, but we have no idea what will set it off.
This film has received mixed reactions, but I found it compelling and even gripping. It exhibits a quiet seething that hints at the forceful current running below its surface, but does not stay quiet for too long — like another film with subtle complexity, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle [prior post], The Housemaid delivers quickly enough on all the explicit action promised during the story’s development. The last two scenes of the film seem to come out of left field, but render it an even more memorable experience than it already is. I give a strong recommendation.
There are obvious similarities to Claude Chabrol’s terrific French film La Cérémonie, but I will save that one for a future post. Also note that The Housemaid is a remake of a 1960 Korean film by the same title which has some high critical praise which warrants further investigation.
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