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The Lust-Filled, Lesbian-Revenge Korean Film That Shook Up Cannes

We’re very proud of Jaclyn Jose and ‘Ma’Rosa,’ but we also really want to see ‘The Handmaiden’
by Mark Coles | May 23, 2016
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Yes, you've read that right. The 2016 Cannes Film Festival had in its roster The Handmaiden, a South Korean film about lust, lesbianism, deception, and revenge, and we're wishing it lands here soon.


The film is an adaptation of the 2002 novel Fingersmith by Sarah Waters. Set in Victorian England, it tells the story about how two pickpockets scam an heiress out of a large inheritance of her money by fooling her into marrying one of them and then placing the said heiress in an insane asylum afterwards. 

The elaborate plan, however, takes many twists and turns as one of the pickpockets, a girl named Sue who acts as a handmaiden, falls in love with the heiress.


The movie is directed by Park Chan-wook, a South Korean filmmaker who isn't new to international film festivals. Back in 2004, his thriller-revenge film Oldboy won Cannes' Grand Prix award. It received a lot of praise internationally, and Hollywood even made a remake of it in 2013, which starred Josh Brolin and was directed by Spike Lee.

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In The Handmaiden, Park stays true to his source material but tweaks it by changing the setting to Japanese-occupied Korea in the 1930's, a turbulent and dark period in the nation's history where one's social class and standing really come into play.

Crime, lust, and revenge are all right up Park's alley. His previous films, including Oldboy, took on the same themes, while also touching on relationships that are deemed "taboo" in many societies. 

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The Handmaiden stars Kim Min-hee as the heiress Lady Hideko and Kim Tae-ri as Sue. It also has Ha Jung-woo as Count Fujiwara, the bachelor thief, and Cho Jin-woong, as Kouzuki, the uncle who took care of Hideko.


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