I’m not sure what this says about me, but of all the films I saw in Cannes, for me this sexy, elegant and outrageous intrigue from Korea was the most unalloyed pleasure, yet one with enough rigour and intelligence that it could be enjoyed guilt-free. The Housemaid is an erotic melodrama about an innocent young beauty (Jeon Do-youn) who works as a nanny and maid for a wealthy modern household. The mother who hires her is pregnant, and her blithely entitled husband is a decadent womanizer who takes advantage of his new employee at the first opportunity. The story is a remake of a 50-year-old classic, but it feels relentlessly modern, and the maid has been transformed from femme fatale to avenging angel. To give away more of the plot would be a crime. Let’s just say it takes some breathtaking twists. Im Sang Soo directs this polished tale of class conflict with surgical precision. Scene by scene, it’s opulent, seductive and exciting. Combine The Housemaid with Poetry, and it’s a hot year for Korean cinema.
The Housemaid premieres at TIFF Sept 12, with additional screenings Sept. 14 and 19