A spacey new maid comes to work in the mansion of a rich man, his pregnant wife, and their young daughter. The expected bad behaviour ensues with horrendous consequences.
Junggugeo Kaenada 중국어 캐나다: ★★.5
Only 만: ★★.5
Junggugeo Kaenada 중국어 캐나다: I have been aware of The Housemaid for a while, because it made the international film festival circuit. Plus, it seems popular enough to have infiltrated Korean pop culture. For instance, the Lee Min Ho and Park Shin Hye Kdrama, “Heirs” hilariously referenced it, except with the middle aged maid playing the titular character.
Only 만: I had never heard of it, so I went into it with only the short description from IMDB to go by, which I found actually threw me off while I was watching because I kept expecting it to turn into a version of The Hand that Rocks the Cradle. In fact, it never even came close.
Junggugeo Kaenada: I was expecting a morally ambiguous art house film. At least initially, it seemed that was what we got. There was no single character who came across as likable, except perhaps the little girl. It was hard to feel sympathy for the maid, Eun Yi. She was unappealingly childlike in that she did not seem to understand the repercussions of her actions, and then, she could not foresee the danger she was in.
Only: That was the part I found interesting. Between the self-absorbed and unforgiving wife, her grasping mother, the cold, but lustful husband, the housekeeper who recognized their moral repugnance, but needed their money, and space cadet, Eun Yi, I can’t say that I was rooting for anyone. But, the story was compelling, regardless, especially watching them build up to what was bound to be a disaster of some form or another.
Junggugeo Kaenada: Yes, it was like watching a moderately paced train wreck happen. But, because I was not rooting for anyone in particular, it excited me to see who would screw the other first, literally and figuratively.
Hoon, the husband, got on with the job of seducing the maid without much preamble. I saw more of actor, Lee Jung Jae than I ever saw in “Triple”, which was a shock.
Only: The two of them really got into it without a whole lot of foreplay. One minute he’s grimacing during sex with his heavily pregnant wife, and the next he’s wandering into Eun Yi’s bed. It was almost banal.
Junggugeo Kaenada: I really loved it when Hoon started flexing his muscles while Eun Yi was blowing him. It was such a ridiculous aspect of the character.
Only: I think I turned to you at some point, wondering why watching two attractive people doing it was so unsexy.
Junggugeo Kaenada: How do you explain Eun Yi making herself comfortable in the bathtub of the master ensuite bathroom? Was she getting power drunk off her pregnancy?
Only: I never really got a handle on Eun Yi. It’s one of the reasons I never cared about her character, so whatever she did, I sort of swallowed without giving it much thought, since I had no idea why she was doing anything. When she realized she was pregnant and made herself at home in the master bathroom, I just shrugged it off, assuming that’s what the reaction of her character would be, without really understanding why.
Junggugeo Kaenada: Which leads us to Eun Yi’s final act. (Partial spoiler alert) Considering how she breezed through everything else, including being pressured to have an abortion and being placed under house arrest, her reaction to the loss of her baby was overkill.
Only: There’s probably some kind of commentary on society in there, where she destroys herself in spectacular fashion, with little to no repercussions for the chaebol family. I mean, in the end, the loss of the housekeeper seemed like more of a blow, but even that wasn’t much more than an inconvenience. But, in terms of the story, I was caught off guard; it really seemed to come out of nowhere.
Junggugeo Kaenada: And, not in a positive way. The movie transformed from art house film to soap opera. I had a few notions on how it would end, none of them were happy endings, and yet, what they ultimately chose was unsatisfactory.
Only: Agreed. Actually, that said, I felt like the story of the housekeeper would have been a more interesting film.
Junggugeo Kaenada: What is your assessment of The Housemaid as it is?
Only: It’s a well-shot, well-paced film with a cold view of its characters, that unfortunately veers into melodrama in the last act.