The latest from South Korean director Park Chan-wook is a crime drama titled The Handmaiden. The director is largely known for his vengeance trilogy (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy and Lady Vengeance), as well has English-language debut, Stoker from 2013. This time around, Chan-wook is back in Korea with another film that promises many twists and turns.
Having debuted at the Cannes Film Festival, where Chan-wook's film was given a good amount of praise, there is clearly a level of anticipation for the latest from a clearly talented director. Now the first U.S. trailer for The Handmaiden has debuted online for everyone to enjoy.
An official description for the film goes as follows:
From Park Chan-wook, the celebrated director of OLDBOY, LADY VENGEANCE and STOKER, comes a ravishing new crime drama. Park presents a gripping and sensual tale of two women—a young Japanese lady living on a secluded estate and a Korean woman who is hired to serve as her new handmaiden, but is secretly plotting with a conman to defraud her of a large inheritance. Inspired by the novel Fingersmith by British author Sarah Waters, THE HANDMAIDEN borrows the most dynamic elements of its source material and combines it with Park Chan-wook’s singular vision to create an unforgettable viewing experience.
The Handmaiden found Chan-wook nominated for the Palme d'Or award and the film was eligible for the Queer Palm award. Based on what we can see in the trailer, the sort of visual thrills that come from the acclaimed director are clearly present here. Being set in 1930s Korea, there is a notable change in the look, compared to the modern aesthetic found in Chan-wook's most well-known films, but that does not seemed to have stopped the man from delivering on how he likes to make his film look. There appears to be an intensity matched by a fun level of thrill.
Obviously a trailer is going to do what it can to look as slick as possible to get people's attention, but as a fan of Park Chan-wook films, it doesn't feel like too much of a stretch as far as how representative this trailer may be of the actual movie. Some of the editing certainly gives the film a kinetic look that may not match up to Chan-wook's deliberate sense of pacing, which should be expected, but the mood certainly seems to have been established effectively.
Some may be upset that the critical success of Stoker did not lead to Chan-wook directing another American film. Aside from the fact that he can direct what he wants, it should be praiseworthy, as far as seeing a director continue on his own path and making projects he finds himself drawn to. Much like Guillermo del Toro, who has gained praise for both his Spanish-language films as well as his Hollywood productions, Chan-wook may be just fine going back and forth between Korean features and whatever sort of career he wants to have in America.
The Handmaiden arrives in U.S. theaters on October 14th, 2016.