The Handmaiden

by Greg Vellante

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday October 21, 2016

'The Handmaiden'
'The Handmaiden'  

"A story is all about the journey," says a key character in Park Chan-wook's enthralling "The Handmaiden." And my, what a journey this is.

"The Handmaiden" is the type of film where disclosing any plot detail in review or conversation, no matter how miniscule, feels like cheating the experience -- especially considering how playfully, carefully and constructively these details are revealed as the movie progresses.

This is South Korean director, Park Chan-wook ("Oldboy," "Stoker") at the very top of his game, crafting an illustrative and illustrious affair that singes the mind with striking images and enchanting storytelling.

Viewers can expect a thriller, a mystery, a romance and a calculated game of chess with human beings as the pieces. Expect to be swooned. Expect to be repelled. If the major turning point of, say, "Oldboy" was enough to make you cringe, Chan-wook ups the ante in "The Handmaiden" -- delivering three separate parts, all of which tell the same story yet in engrossingly different and revealing ways.

If you don't leave the theater in a combination of bliss and tizzy, well, I can't help you. This is one of the year's very best films.