I said just a few days ago that Korean film doesn’t interest me as much as it does some other folks, with some exceptions. One of those exceptions is Park Chan-Wook, the visionary behind the acclaimed Vengeance Trilogy of Sympathy for Mr Vengeance, Old Boy and Lady Vengeance. Chan-Wook’s style is a heady mixture of the kinds of things a lot of film nerds love: violence, transgression, pitch-black humor and cinematic rule-breaking. His movies are weird, daring, disturbing, funny, and a host of whole other adjectives that have made him a cult figure within Korean cinema, and film in general. And all those adjectives would seem to apply to his new film, The Handmaiden, the first trailer for which you can now watch.
Except ‘watch’ may not be the best way to describe what happens after you hit ‘play’ on the Youtube video below. The trailer is really more of a teaser, giving no info on the film’s plot or characters, but instead a taste of the kind of weirdness to come. Like watching one of his films, the trailer is an arresting experience. There’s the weird score that I can’t even begin to describe, the sexually charged imagery that contains, among other things, what looks like a woman having sex with one of the puppets from the old Robaxacet commercials. There’s already hints of formal weirdness, from jump cuts to footage reversing. And all of this in an extremely pretty package, to boot. It’s already clear that the cinematography is gorgeous, to say nothing of the sets and costume designs.
The Handmaiden will be screening at Cannes later this month, and while there’s no word yet on a North American release yet, Chan-Wook’s following here will hopefully secure it a limited run.