English Title: The Housemaid
Original Title: Hanyo
Country: South Korea
Director: Sang-soo Im
Music: Hong-jip Kim
Cinematography: Hyung-deok Lee
A remake of a classic masterpiece is always been a thankless task, but since half a century has passed since 1960, when Ki-young Kim’s original version came out, it is a considerable and understandable timing to do it against all odds. With the A-list actress Do-young Kim on board, at least, tedium has been successfully blocked entirely through its 106 minute running time, plus I am plain oblivious to Ki-young’s version, so no prejudice by preconceived ideas will hobble my judgement.
The karma has its default value from the beginning, which startles its audience with a young girl’s suicidal jump, prefigures the ominous fate of our protagonist, whose standpoint has been intentionally set as more of an aroused innocent (suggesting by the tantalizing finger foreplay from the male part and a waiting-naked seduction from the female part) than an adultery victim thanks to a modern metabolism which signifies female is not always the submissive counterpart of the male-dominant society. But the comprehensive tone is much or less conflicts with this setting, with would cause some ambiguous reading of the abruptly dark ending (the final birthday scenery has a moderately sidestepping deviation which cannot gratify an sublimating closing.
The film strives to distill the trite storyline (with some patent slips, e.g. the medicine swapping is cursorily done, at least taking away some original potions to keep the amount even) and saves more spatial elasticity to its actors, and the most profitable beneficiaries are Do-yeon and Yeo-jeong, both shoulder the film’s strength against banality elsewhere. Do-yeon also outshines in the graphically daring sex scenes with the over-beefy Jung-Jae Lee; while Yeo-jeong is the thunder-stealer here, endowing a supporting role with a show-stopper weightiness.
I have quite a few storage of South Korean DVDs (mostly recent ones) which I am pretty eager to watch, THE HOUSEMAID is not in the top-tier, but one thing is certain, I am hunting the original version now.