Sang-soo Im‘s The Housemaid, a remake of a 1960 drama of the same name, is a sexual hothouse melodrama made in the spirit of Claude Chabrol and Brian DePalma. It screened at 4:30 in the Salle Debussy, and for the second time in a row I had to sit on one of those half-assed fold-out seats, which are okay for an hour or so and then you begin to feel it.
The DePalma-Chabrol tag means that The Housemaid (a) is about dark currents in a perverse well-to-do family and (b) has been made with a highly polished, primary-color sensibility that underlines every plot point and mood pocket, and ends on a note of flamboyance if not insanity that’s more about the director being in love with how it looks than anything else.
I wasn’t entirely floored, just as I’ve never been that wild about DePalma’s more excessive exercises. Some of what happens in the second half is broad and lurid, and then the stops are really pulled out in the second-to-last scene. But Sang-soo Im (The President’s Last Bang) is a formidable pro, and the cast — especially Do-yeon Jeon, the female lead — give assured high-style performances. That’s the brush this film was made with, and you can either roll with this type of thing or not. I was down with it for the most part. I didn’t fight it, I mean.