Watch the first trailer for Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaid

Based on the novel Fingersmith by English author Sarah Waters, The Handmaiden is Park Chan-wook’s first directorial outing since 2013’s gothic chiller, Stoker. Park has transported the crime thriller, set in Victorian England, to the Korean Peninsular during the Japanese colonial era.

The film concerns a Korean female pickpocket being sent by a handsome conman to seduce a wealthy Japanese heiress. This new trailer invokes a similar sense of sexual desire as was seen in Stoker. A rhythmic soundtrack of heavy breathing accompanies stark voyeuristic imagery, where the regal confines of traditional Japan are contrasted with brazen erotica.

True to form, Park, when interviewed by Korea Joongang Daily managed to side step the obvious sexual connotations and lesbian thriller labels, preferring to linger on the more surprising aspects: “This film is the most talky film of all my works, which contributed to the extending the running time as well. It contains some delicate humour and trivial episodes.”

In the same interview he also suggested that The Handmaiden deviates from his normal style in order to, “visually accentuate the harmonious and awkward conflicts of the colonial era.” But with much of the key production crew from his 2003 masterpiece, Old Boy, back to assist, this new trailer suggests that the master of Korean cinema is well and truly back to his best.

The Handmaid premieres at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival

Published 5 May 2016

Tags: Cannes Park Chan-wook

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