THE HOUSEMAID (Im Sang-Soo)


The film plays like your average afternoon soap opera, but filmmaker Im Sang-Soo paints a very beautiful visual canvas. THE HOUSEMAID therefore is more of style rather than substance. You will find it easy to agree; the shots are hauntingly beautiful, the production design is captivating, and almost every object presented in the film (the bathtub, the wine bottle, the wine glass, the laptop) has their purpose. 

So the basic plot is that the main character works as a maid for a wealthy family, wife is pregnant with twins, husband is a spoiled womanizer who couldn't find satisfaction with his wife, wife's mother is a conniving snake, and there you have it. The case of the maid having an affair with the employer always ends in misery.

Jeon Do-yeon as the maid Eun-Ji is subtly powerful; there is an emotional vulnerability hidden beneath her naive composure that leads to her being precarious, and you can feel the torment of her character. 

However, the film's highlight is Yoon Yeo-jeong as the elder maid Miss Cho who knows everything that occurs in the household.  It's hard to classify her character in a black or white sense, and it is this dynamism that makes her shine. In between there are moral choices, but you cannot really blame Miss Cho. 

The ending capsizes the film. All of the pain leads to tragedy. There is no comic relief. Im Sang-soo betrays his main character. 

Nevertheless, the film works as a passable satire of the upper class (which is something we have already seen countless times). Besides, the vivid, uncluttered visuals are a marvel. Mildly erotic and at times shocking, this remake of the 1960 original is good enough for a marital thriller. Adrian Lyne meets Chito Rono. 

RATING: 3/5

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