Saturday, September 10, 2011

Hanyo (The Housemaid) (2010)

Hanyo grips and doesn’t let you turn away. Immediately, you know that new housemaid Eun-yi Li (Do-yeon Jeon) is in a strange home with peculiar people when Hanyoshe starts alongside the seasoned older maid Byung-sik (Yeo-Jong Yun) who’s worked in the home for years.

Eun-yi Li is seduced by her new employer Hoon (Jung-Jae Lee) and the two begin an affair. By day, she tends to his pregnant wife, Hae-ra (Seo Woo), and daughter, Nami (Seo-Hyeon Ahn). By night, Hoon pays Eun-yi clandestine visits (always with wine bottle in hand). While the young maid is enjoying her double-duty, the older maid is not keen on her apprentice’s extracurricular activities. She plays both sides—loyal to her employers but knowing them, what they are capable of and telling Eun-yi to be careful. When Eun-yi gets pregnant, Byung-sik betrays her. Eun-yi faces the wrath of Hae-ra and her mother, who proves to be shockingly vengeful in her efforts to get Eun-yi to terminate her pregnancy.

The commentary on socio-economic differences is at the forefront in this horror thriller, reminding Eun-yi she is worth little, if anything, but never giving us much to understand what her life was like previous to this job, except that she shared a tiny place and bed with an equally fiscally strapped pal. The set design is brilliant—the stately home as a cold prison. In a scene eerily similar to the balcony fall in The Omen, you are foreshadowed for the climax. The characters are disturbed and you will be too. The final scene is a neo-Adams family mishmash.

(One seemingly unresolved detail: Hoon and his mother-in-law congratulate Byung-sik on her son’s new post as prosecutor. Her reaction to Hoon Goh is anger. Why? Was her son Hoon Goh’s brother? That would bring this story full circle.)

Writer/Director: Sang-soo Im

Country: South Korea

Genre: Thriller

Run time: 105 minutes

Scale: 3

No comments: