South Korea, 2016 (MIFF 2016, Headliners)

Director: Park Chan-wook


"Exquisitely designed and sexually liberating, [The Handmaiden] is a hugely entertaining thriller." – The Guardian

Double-crosses fly and identities morph in The Handmaiden, MIFF favourite Park Chan-wook's (Stoker, MIFF 2013) erotically charged adaptation of Sarah Waters' Booker Prize-nominated sapphic opus, Fingersmith. Transposing the Victorian setting of the original into a vividly realised and sumptuously shot 1930s Korea, Park delivers a work of razor-sharp humour and unexpected pleasures that will have you guessing until the final piece of clothing drops to the floor.

Sooki, a beautiful young pickpocket, has been dispatched by a master conman known as The Count to become handmaiden to naive Japanese heiress Hideko (Kim Min-hee, also seen in Right Now, Wrong Then in this year's program). The plan: lure Hideko into falling in love with The Count and as soon as they're married lock her in a mental asylum and claim her vast fortune. However, Hideko is far from what she seems and when handmaiden and mistress fall in love, the stage is set for a dangerous and sexually explicit power play that could leave all three of them unmoored.

"An intensely pleasurable, lavishly shot dessert tray … deliriously fun." – The Playlist

Find the book at Readings.

See also...


Winner of the Jury Prize at this year's Cannes Film Festival. ... From the runaway imagination of Festival favourite Park Chan-wook (Old Boy, MIFF 2004; Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, MIFF 2006) comes T... More »


At a border post between North and South Korea, three soldiers are dead and the two surviving witnesses to their killing have attempted suicide. Into a potentially explosive situation steps investigat... More »


Old Boy South Korea'a wild, intensely cinematic ride.' -VarietyWinner of the Cannes Grand Prix award, Old Boy is an electrifying tale of revenge from Festival favourite Park Chan-wook (Sympathy for Mr... More »


“Investigates the lonely recesses of a lucid, wounded mind and renders the astonishing portrait of a sombre heroine whose heart is as pure - and as cold - as snow.” - Toronto International Film Festiv... More »


Ryu is a hearing-impared factory worker who spends his spare time with his younger sister and offbeat girlfriend. When his sister becomes dangerously ill, Ryu decides to offer her one of his kidneys, ... More »


"An intense mix of horror, thriller and domestic drama, this is exquisite filmmaking." – Empire ... When India loses her father in a car accident on her 18th birthday, her mother Evie invites India's ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director