Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB
Original title: Hanyo
South Korea, 2010. Sidus FNH-Benex Cinema Fund 1, Michigan Venture Capital, CJ Venture Investment, Stareast Digital Laboratory, Hanwha Entertainment Fund No. 1, Mirovision, Sidus. Screenplay by Sang-soo Im, based on the film by Ki-young Kim. Cinematography by Hyung-deok Lee. Produced by Jason Chae. Music by Hong-jip Kim. Production Design by Jung-yoon Bae. Costume Design by Jin-a Lee. Film Editing by Eun Soo Lee. Cannes Film Festival 2010. Toronto International Film Festival 2010.
Despite being a remake of Ki-young Kim’s 1960 original, this film only retains the bare bones of the plot and comes up with a fascinating narrative of its own. Now streamlined down to focus on one woman and not three, and eschewing the introduction of the girls in the factory classroom, the film begins as Do-yeon Jeon seeks to up her income by becoming a housemaid to a monumentally wealthy family. She is treated well by her pregnant mistress, but the harmony in the household turns sour after she begins a torridly sexual affair with the man of the house, a handsome success whose power makes him think he can do whatever he wants. Now our heroine must do what she can to survive the anger of a woman scorned, and the places that this film goes are harrowing but devilishly enjoyable. Where the original told the story of a hapless man who has to defend himself from an obsessed psychopath, this one is about a girl trying to defend her life after having been used for the man’s pleasure and then discarded. Stylized within an inch of its life and blessed with superb performances, it’s a melodramatic treat that is sympathetic, entertaining and genuinely sexy, with Yeo-jeong Yoon a standout as the hard-bitten housekeeper whose years of service weigh quite visibly on her shoulders.