The Handmaiden has received plenty of critical acclaim since its 2016 release. Here I am, two years later, finally getting around to watching it and seeing what all of the fuss was about. Three hours later and I can now saw that it does indeed live up to its acclaim.
Twists and turns. The Handmaiden makes use of one of my favorite storytelling methods. The story is told in pieces through one character’s perspective, switching to another later on to fully piece together the story. I absolutely love this method of storytelling and The Handmaiden executes it brilliantly. The movie is actually split into parts, making the story easier to follow, while still not necessarily being told in order. The movie made me think that I was in the know, when I was actually the farthest from it.
Excellent pacing. For a movie that is just under three hours, I was surprised at how well The Handmaiden managed to hold my interest. The pacing was solid throughout, with no scene really feeling like it dragged on too long or vice versa. That is saying a lot especially when once considers that the majority of this movie is dialogue scenes. Even then, it was never a bore to sit through those scenes. The director did an excellent job in that regard.
The soundtrack. The soundtrack for the Handmaiden is not bad, but it was not good either. It was just painfully average outside of maybe one or two standout tracks. A bit disappointing considering the composer this comes from, Jo Yeong-wook, who also did the music for Oldboy, one of my favorite Korean films (and with a great soundtrack to match). The best track on the soundtrack is the very first one, titled “The Tree From Mount Fuji”.
The Handmaiden is a excellent movie overall. It tells a very interesting story and has a great cast of characters to tell it through. It pulls off the sense of constant unease brilliantly. Would definitely recommend the movie, just do not watch it with family!