Wednesday, 6 July 2011


Madman Entertainment
Available on DVD and Blu-ray July 20

A remake of the 1960 original, which New York Times critic A.O. Scott describes as kinkier than this outing, makes me think that 60's Korean cinema was no less bold and outrageous than it is today.

Not that director Im Sang-soo has skimped on the sex; there's plenty of that early on between Eun-yi (Do-yeon Jeon), newly hired housemaid and child minder, and her wealthy employer, Hoon (Jung-jae Lee), a well groomed businessman with a penchant for red wine and piano.

It's hardly the first time Hoon has cheated on his wife, Hae-ra (Seo Woo), who's heavily pregnant with twins, nor does Eun-yi rebuff his advances, but when Hoon terminates their midnight assignations (though not her employment) with a cheque, Eun-yi takes it with good grace.

But when Hoon's mother-in-law learns from the Machivellian housekeeper, Mrs Cho (Youn Yuh-jung), that Eun-yi has fallen pregnant to her son-in-law (before Eun-yi herself knows she's with child), it sets in motion a chain of events which sees the mousy housemaid transform to avenging angel.

Im Sang-soo's The Housemaid is, for the most part, a melodrama of the highest order with the action very much centred on the women; you could imagine a slightly younger Pedro Almodovar having fun with similar material. But I think the Spanish auteur would have held back, or even refrained from the bat-shit-crazy ending(s) which Sang-soo has gone for.

Never having seen the 1960 original, I can't say whether Sang-soo is being faithful to his predecessor or making his own mark with this ending but until that point, he had me intrigued as to how this handsomely shot, pitch perfect women's picture would play out.

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