South Korea pushes out some of the most creative and provocative foreign cinema I’ve seen so far (I can’t get enough of Bong-Jong Ho per my previous posts). I was lucky enough to attend the American premiere of The Housemaid a few weeks ago and am thrilled to report it only augmented my appreciation for Korean film.
Directed by Im Sang-Soo, the Housemaid follows the young and naïve Eun-yi as she plays nanny to the very affluent Hoon family. The ‘man’ of the house, accustomed to having whatever he pleases, quickly begins to have sex with Eun-yi. She is silly enough to imagine that her life now resides in the mansion to which she is the housemaid. Her encounters with Mr. Hoon are extremely erotic (by my American standards) yet humorous. Sang-Soo sprinkles comedy into all things serious, including Eun-yi’s vicious and coerced abortion. It is post this traumatic event that Eun-yi is awakened into a dark character, contrasting the persona she portrays at the beginning of the film. In this element, Eun-yi embarks to seek revenge (with the help of the senior housemaid) in a twisted and very corky way. In the final scene of the film, she dramatically hangs herself in front of the entire family, exposing the young Hoon children to a very dark image which they will never forget. She becomes the dysfunctional embodiment of what originally beat her down (psychologically, sexually, and sometimes even physically).
The Housemaid is a black comedy that is easy to enjoy and is the perfect film for one hoping to dabble in the world of South Korean insanity.