The Housemaid (1960)

KI-YOUNG KIM

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB

Original title:  Hanyo

South Korea, 1960.  Hanguk Munye Yeonghwa, Kim Ki-Young Production.  Screenplay by Ki-young Kim.  Cinematography by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Film Editing by .  

A music teacher responsible for keeping a class of factory girls up on their classical education is subject to their adolescent insecurities thanks to his dreamy physique. One girl even gets herself suspended for an inappropriate advance on the teacher, while her friend decides to take private lessons from him to help him out economically. When the teacher announces that he also needs to hire a maid, he is recommended to take on the factory school’s rebel since she needs to be straightened out (she smokes in secret, which I suppose is Korean film allegory for looseness). The new member of the household opens a Pandora’s box at home, where mom and children are subject to the maid’s jealous treachery after she develops a passion for the boss as well. A painfully soap-operatic plot that is very easy to see coming is dealt with in a very classy manner by expert direction and wonderful performances, not to mention crisp, gorgeous black and white photography. That said, it’s not much easier for cynical audience members to sit through given that it never overcomes its predictable nature (though the concluding joke is appreciated). Remade in 2010.

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