No. 1 – The Handmaiden (아가씨)
When director Park Chan-wook announces a new film, that is reason enough to get excited. The celebrated auteur’s work never fails to enthral, and The Handmaiden is no exception.
Adapted from Sarah Walter’s 2002 novel Fingersmith, The Handmaiden brilliantly transposes Victorian era Britain for 1930s colonial Korea and is an absolutely stunning achievement. Visually the film is a triumph – the production design, costumes, locations et al. are beautifully realised, while the cast are phenomenal in their roles. Kim Min-hee is superb in portraying the seemingly disturbed heiress, newcomer Kim Tae-ri excels in conveying the devious-yet-naive thief Sook-hee, and Ha Jeong-woo is a devilish delight as smarmy Count Fujiwara. Through director Park’s incredible vision the events unfold in the thrillingly dark, comedic, and erotic fashion for which he is renowned to create a riveting piece of cinema, one that has received an array of international and domestic awards as well as appearing in multiple critics’ top ten lists.
The Handmaiden is a genuine cinematic triumph, and as such takes the number 1 spot in our top ten.
For the full list of 2016 Korean films viewed and rated, head over to Letterboxed here.