This was an unexpected, compelling journey. For a while it seemed similar to many other stories of power, abuse, lies, and betrayal. The (semi) unexpected twists, however, kept me watching. Characters are nuanced and well-portrayed, the cinematography beautiful and lush, and the sound was nicely balanced. Very nice.
I have not seen the original. "....story is told by writer-director Im Sang-soo with cool, elegant cinematography and sinuous visual movements. The dominant mood is gothic, with the persistent sadomasochistic undertones that seem inescapable in so much Korean cinema".
Excellent acting and an impressive production that sets that perfect anti-capitalist sort of mood. But those are all the nice things I have to say. Near opera-level melodrama and depressingly flat characters do not make for a hit. If it were not for Byung-shik -- the only person rendered more than one-dimensional by this plot, the sole reason to carry on past 30 minutes -- this film wouldn't deserve even two stars.
Well... that was quite an ending. First 30 minutes were quite hum-drum and full of melodrama. A real snooze-fest. But then something happens about halfway and things begin to click... and not in a normal way. The last 20 minutes also kind of change the entire genre of the film as well. Crazy how that works. ...and did I mention that ending? Oh my. Heh.
This woman's subjugation was hard to watch but well plotted and presented. At first I was skeptical of the denouement but given the nature of the housemaid's mindset of class inferiority, in the end, may have been her only move. I love South Korean films. So often provocative and subversive.