The Handmaiden 13.05.17
The film was incidental, in a manner of speaking. A South Korean special, of dark sexual themes and exquisite detail and torture, it was a film that left no trace on me, or so I thought as I walked home, into Edinburgh's midnight mist. I went to bed soon after.
I don't remember many of the dreams I had that night, but I remember waking up from a nightmare, and thinking, 'Wow, how horrible.' I don't remember the cause, just multiple phases, dreams of ugliness and pain; I remember a childhood acquaintance of some cause of anxiety to me, suggesting in a friendly style that I climb into an unlit cauldron as people watched, wanting to see me boil alive. I vaguely remember refusing, and he took my place instead.
Such weird dreams, and I wonder at the connection with the film, The Handmaiden, and I feel there was some uneasy cause and effect. It's a film of disturbing, congenial sadism and betrayal, climaxing with a gruesome scene of torture. I don't know that I 'got' the film completely, it makes voyeurs of the audience, but to what degree I couldn't grasp. I only know it appeared to plant disturbing thoughts in my unconscious for afterwards.Usually my film reviews aren't this off-topic but obviously this one is. I have little to say about the film, which to be fair, is so much about the twists that emerge halfway through and towards the end. It's not a film that's explicitly disturbing like the recent sci-fi Life, but you enter Handmaiden like a dream, and then it seems it enters your dreams, eliciting themes of torture, pain and anxiety, of repressed horror, released after you think you've moved on. An exotic, aesthetically splendid nightmare of a film, in other words, one I'm not sure I liked particularly, but was affected by.