Asian Cinema : The Housemaid - 1960 and 2010

The Housemaid - 1960 and 2010

Hanyo (1960) / Ki-young Kim. The first of two settings in this psychological thriller is the house of music teacher, Mr. Kim. When he reads an article in the newspaper about a man who had got his maid pregnant, he wife tells him not to say such things “in our sacred home.” The second setting is a factory where all the female workers live in a dormitory. Their education and entertainment take place within the walls. When one of the young women writes a mash note to their music teacher/choir director, who is Mr. Kim, he reports her and she is expelled. The girl’s best friend, Miss Cho, begins private piano lessons from Kim at his house. When Kim needs a housekeeper (he and his wife already have two children and have twins due any day), he asks Miss Cho for a recommendation. Cho sends him Myung-sook, a sulking and rebellious young woman who immediately sets out to seduce the husband. This sets us on a course of panic, hysteria, wild plans, revenge, and, possibly, murder. It seems that people keep opening that cabinet in the kitchen that has the camera inside it to show us the person’s face and that bottle of rat poison in the foreground. It keeps getting wilder and wilder until you wonder if this is getting unintentionally funny – or maybe INtentionally funny. The last scene of all, breaking the forth wall and addressing the audience directly, hints that the latter is correct. I liked this a lot.

Hanyo (2010) / Sang-soo Im. A remake – a “based on” as the credits have it – of the 1960 thriller of the same title. This is very much worth watching because the modern rewrite completely changes the household dynamics and character motivations, just leaving some major plot points in place. The father of the house is now an extremely rich and privileged young businessman, played by the popular South Korean actor Jung-jae Lee (“Assassination,” “New World,” “The Thieves”). The young title housemaid is played by Do-yeon Jeon (“Scandal” and “Memories of the Sword”) as naïve and overwhelmed by the master of the house. As with the 1960 film, you can’t know what’s going to happen next or how it will all work out. I preferred the earlier film, but this new one is an entertaining riff on the story. See them both.

mf

Trust me. I’m The Doctor.

Re: The Housemaid - 1960 and 2010

I liked the 2010 version a lot. It immediately struck me as something from about three years in the future, as a lot of Korean television does. Very stylish and meticulously crafted direction. However it had a lot of weaknesses as cinema in the writing and acting, which made the whole thing get pretty ragged by the end. They did a pretty good job of conveying the isolation of being 'out there' somewhere in the countryside at some fortress-mansion, with all the psychological consequences that come from that. Sort of a Korean "The Shining." I thought Yeo-jeong Yoon really deserved a lot of praise for the aging housemistress who has been-there-done-that. I have been meaning to get around to watching the original -- will check it out.

Re: The Housemaid - 1960 and 2010

Good write-ups. My favorite version of this is Woman of Fire from 1982, which takes place on a chicken farm. The life of the husband and wife is thrown into turmoil when a young woman comes to work as a maid. If you thought “The Housemaid” was over-the-top, this one will blow your socks off! This film is flat-out ridiculous, but its also oddly riveting and blackly comical. (There are some laugh-out-loud moments to be found here, especially near the end.) There are also some eye-pleasing sets and more atmospheric architecture, with lots and lots of ticking clocks.

YouTube Asian Movie Review Channel
https://www.youtube.com/user/anticlimacus100

Re: The Housemaid - 1960 and 2010

Sounds interesting. I see it was directed by the same person who helmed the 1960 "Hanyo." I'll try to find it. Thanks.

mf

Trust me. I’m The Doctor.

Re: The Housemaid - 1960 and 2010

I think it's on YouTube.

YouTube Asian Movie Review Channel
https://www.youtube.com/user/anticlimacus100
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