Im Sang-soo‘s The Housemaid (IFC Films, 1.21) is a remake of Kim Ki-young’s 1960 Korean original. The consensus about the newbie at last May’s Cannes Film Festival seemed to be that the older film is better. I’ve never seen the original so that left me out. Ki-young’s film is said to be more Bunuelian with the housemaid acting in a devious and manipulative fashion. She’s much more the victim in the version I saw.
In my 5.13 review I described Sang-soo’s version as “a sexual hothouse melodrama made in the spirit of Claude Chabrol and Brian DePalma. By this I mean 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.”
I’m sure that a DVD version of the 1960 original is available somewhere, but I don’t see it on Amazon.
The new Housemaid opens on Friday, 1.21 in NYC. It expands nationwide beginning 1.28. It will also be available on demand beginning 1.26 via Comcast, Cox, Cablevision, Time Warner, Bright House, Charter and Insight.