The Housemaid (하녀)
Synopsis: A wealthy husband has an affair with his housemaid. Because of this, everyone in the family will suffer ….
/!\ -16 years old /!\
Country: South Korea
Genre: thriller, drama, erotic
Director: Im Sang Soo
Casting: Lee Jung Jae, Jeon Do Yeon, Seo Woo, Yoon Yeo Jeong…
The Korean cinema distinguishes itself by its poesy and mystery. Little by little we discover it thanks to famous directors like Bong Joon Jo (Memories of murder), Kim Ki Duk (The bow) or Im Sang Soo (The Housemaid). We discover their country’s culture and history through their movies. They offer us a new and sometimes provocative look on their own society.
This movie divided the opinion. Apparently The Housemaid didn’t get the impact desired in Cannes. Lots of people only saw the surface of the movie and didn’t go any further while other decided to not go see it seeing all the bad critics written about it (some of them even compared it to pornograpy). I think it’s a shame!
Sex, power, money in the program. Nothing is left aside by Im Sang Soo. This movie is before anything else a satire of the society. He criticizes the gap which separates the different classes but also the difference between men and women. The opening scene directly gets us to the heart of the matter. The camera flits around when it filmes the ‘working class’ while everything seems to be calculated to the millimeter when it filmes the ‘upper class”. The transition between the two worlds is made by the character of Jeon Do Yeon, Lee Eun Yi. This latter is hired as a nanny, in a rich house. The change is rough. The shots are clean and quite effective. Im Sang Soo talks through his pictures making the movie even more aesthetic and interesting. Through Lee Eun Yi’s naive and mischievous look we discover a world where money rhymes with power. The cold scenery, the ost composed by Kim Hong Jib and the character’s behaviours make us unease. And this feeling is emphasized with the first apparition of the man of the house played by Lee Jung Jae. No need to be Sherlock Holmes to know what’ll happen then. A heavy atmosphere can be felt. The movie takes rapidly an erotic turn. The director delivers a picturesque paint where the man is placed above everything. Despite his numerous absence, we undesrtand right away that he is the boss in the house. Women flit around him while mister imposes his will. He gets what he wants and that seems to be the motto of the family. The image of women is deteriorated during the whole movie. Lee Eun Yi is there to answer mister’s sexual appetite while Hae Ra (Seo Woo) -his wife-is just there to give birth to his children. Hae Ra’s mother is sickening with her comments about her daughter’s life: “With a rich husband, cheating is just a part of the package. From the day he was born, he had everything he ever wanted. Whatever he saw, if he wanted it, it was his”. We are quickly destabilized by the turn of events. We enter in the thriller genre. The women don’t dare to turn against this man and therefore turn against each other. Cruelty, selfishness, pride…the masks fall. They have to keep up appearances no matter what. Im Sang Woo shows with a wicked and cynical pleasure this descent into hell. The rhythm of the movie -which at first was slow- speeds up to finally ends up into a grand finale. Whether we like this movie or not we don’t come out from it completely untouched. The Housemaid worses the watch just for the actors’s performances. Lee Jung Jae fully deserved his award of best actor. Special mention for Yoon Yeo Jeong who, is for me, one of the best korean experienced actress I know and for the great making!
Note de Whoovy: 7.5/10
Note d’Alice: 6/10
Note de Dushbadou: 7.5/10
Note finale: 6.75/10