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Top 100 Most Anticipated Foreign Films of 2016: #21. Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaid

The Handmaid

Director: Park Chan-wook
Writer: Park Chan-wook

Despite being attached to a number of projects following his first foray into the English language with the underwhelmingly received (but appropriately atmospheric) 2013 title Stoker (read review) South Korean auteur Park Chan-wook loosely adapts Sarah Waters’ novel Fingersmith for his own designs. A three hour BBC miniseries of the novel was produced in 2005 starring Sally Hawkins and Imelda Staunton. Chan-wook’s changes were significant enough to have Waters ask for a change in the title (which now makes it reminiscent of Im Sang-soo’s remake of The Housemaid). Chan-wook relocates the narrative to Korea when the country was under Japanese rule, and involves its a con-man employing a pick-pocket to assist fleecing a noblewoman. We expect moody similarities to Chan-wook’s treatment of Therese Raquin in his 2009 film, Thirst—and we’re curious to see his handling of Waters’ lesbian protagonist.

Cast: Ha Jung-woo, Kim Min-hee, Jo Jin-woong, Kim Tae-ri

Production Co./Producers: Moho Film’s Chan-Wook, Yong Film’s Lee Yong-seung (Crying Fist).

U.S. Distributor: Rights Available. TBD (domestic/international).

Release Date: Filming wrapped on Halloween, 2015, and CJ Entertainment claims it will be ready for the second half of 2016, but we’d imagine a premiere at Cannes is in order.

Los Angeles based Nicholas Bell is's Chief Film Critic and covers film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and TIFF. He is part of the critic groups on Rotten Tomatoes, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and GALECA. His top 3 for 2021: France (Bruno Dumont), Passing (Rebecca Hall) and Nightmare Alley (Guillermo Del Toro). He was a jury member at the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival.

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