Park Chan-wook is a fussy, almost anal-retentive formalist at heart, and that quality serves The Handmaiden.
The sex never escapes the feeling of the very exploitation that it’s supposed to represent a rejection of.
From Bram Stoker to Anne Rice, from Nosferatu to Buffy, it’s safe to say our cultural fascination with the blood-sucking undead isn’t going away anytime soon.
The film’s weird mix of dollhouse dread and fashion-magazine chic can be fetching, but it’s nothing if not vacuous, a series of disjointed, improvisatory riffs.
The film is essentially a giallo fanboy’s interpretation of Emile Zola’s Thérèse Raquin, maybe even George Stevens’s A Place in the Sun.
A pristine example of style and plot over substance.