The Handmaiden

This was so beautiful and twisty. It’s based on Sarah Waters’s novel, The Fingersmith, but transported to Korea under Japan’s colonial rule. I haven’t read the book, and I don’t know much about this part of history, but it all works so well.

I loved that it’s a movie about lesbians who get a happy ending, where all the men are terrible and get what they deserve. It’s absolutely gorgeous. The cinematography is beautiful, the costumes are incredible, the cast is a delight.

It’s a dramatic movie, with some weird dark twists, but I laughed a ton. It had great timing, and knows how over the top some of the situations presented are. It takes itself the perfect amount of seriously. Even when the stakes are high, there’s plenty of room to breath.

There are a lot of sex scenes, and I’m not sure what I think about them. They aren’t strictly necessary, but they don’t feel creepily male gaze, except for the parts that are supposed to be creepy. It reminds me of fan fiction, where the sex is a part of the story, a part of the character’s life, not something to fade away from. All of the sex scenes serve some sort of plot point, except for the last, which is shot oddly, and fairly ridiculous, but I’m going. It’s a very fan fiction thing to end a story with sex to reassure the audience that everything ends happily, and that’s how it functions here.

It’s absolutely one of the best movies of the year. I can see how it wouldn’t be to everyone’s taste, but it’s a stunning work of art, and I am so glad it exists. It’s a really phenomenal strange movie about lesbians — the world needs more of that.

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