Past Event15 Jul - 18 Jul 2016

The Handmaiden

No longer available

The Civic


Based on Welsh novelist Sarah Waters’ Fingersmith, this outrageous and lusciously erotic thriller from the director of Oldboy transposes a Victorian tale of sex, duplicity and madness to 1930s Japanese-occupied Korea.

"Park [Oldboy] Chan-wook’s… new movie, a brazen lesbian twist-fest based on Sarah Waters’ novel Fingersmith, doesn’t lose its duty to entertain amid all its style. Set in 1930s Korea, during the Japanese occupation, The Handmaiden follows Sookee (Kim Tae-ri), a born thief who is recruited to help a con man (Ha Jung-woo) with his plan to seduce a lonely, addled heiress (Kim Min-hee), who lives in a creepy manor house with her even creepier uncle (Cho Jin-woong.

I don’t want to tell you much of anything about how things play out, because there are plenty of nifty, nasty surprises to be enjoyed here, but you should know that there’s some rather explicit handmaiden-on-lady-of-the-house sex, there’s some familiar Park Chan-wook arty gore, and there’s a lot of old-timey porn.

Amid all that, Park doesn’t get distracted, keeping a tight focus on the winding story and coaxing great performances out of all four leads. Kim Min-hee is especially entrancing, robustly playing a nutty, devious rich girl with a soul. An intelligent, funny erotic thriller, The Handmaiden seems destined for some kind of American remake that isn’t likely to live up to Park’s invention, wit, and daring." - Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair

The Handmaiden


South Korea 2016
145 mins
In Korean and Japanese, with English subtitles

Director: Park Chan-wook

Producers: Park Chan-wook, Syd Lim

Screenplay: Chung Seo-kyung, Park Chan-wook. Based on the novel Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Photography: Chung Chung-hoon

Editors: Kim Sang-bum, Kim Jae-bum

Production designer: Ryu Seong-hee

Costume designer: Cho Sang-kyung

Music: Cho Young-wuk

With: Kim Min-hee (Lady Hideko), Kim Tae-ri (Sookee), Ha Jung-woo (the Count), Cho Jin-woong (Kouzuki), Kim Hae-sook (Mrs Sasaki), Moon So-ri (Hideko’s aunt)

Festivals: Cannes (In Competition) 2016

For tickets and details about films at other venues, please visit the New Zealand International Film Festival website.

Watch the trailer

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