The Handmaiden | Park Chan-wook's exquisitely seductive suspense thriller set in 1930s Korea

The Handmaiden Kim Tae-ri and Kim Min-hee

The Handmaiden Kim Tae-ri and Kim Min-hee

Park Chan-wook returns to his native Korea following his recent Hollywood foray, 2013’s heady Gothic thriller Stoker, for The Handmaiden, an exquisitely seductive adaptation of British writer Sarah Waters’ 2002 novel Fingersmith.

The book’s basic setup remains the same. A young pickpocket is recruited by a debonair con-artist to take part in his scheme to seduce a wealthy heiress and swindle her out of her fortune. Here, though, the action has been relocated from Victorian England to 1930s Korea, then under Japanese colonial rule.

Throbbing with greed and passion, deception and betrayal, the story remains every bit as gripping on screen as it was on the page.

Certificate 18. Runtime 145 mins. Director Park Chan-wook

Jason Best

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.