In the current issue of The L, Henry Stewart reviews The Housemaid, Im Sang-soo’s remake of Kim Ki-young’s 1960 psychodrama, in which a middle-class family man seduces the servant, who then psychotically plots the family’s moral ruin. The new Housemaid, which opens today at IFC Center and Lincoln Plaza, is, Henry says, “”spiffy, sexy and super-shallow—a far cry from its politically scathing original.” That scathing original is a classic of South Korean cinema—which is well and truly amazing, that a film with such Polanskian booby-trapped compositions, febrile sexual tension, Marxist cynicism and heavily symbolic domestic-hostage thriller setpieces could become a received national masterwork.
Have you seen it? Because you can, and should.
The film was restored, a couple years ago, by Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Foundation: when it was released on DVD, the L’s Cullen Gallagher said that “its psycho-sexual tension suggests some fusion of Henri-Georges Clouzot and Shohei Imamura, though Kim’s meticulous mise-en-scene is far more claustrophobic… it’s as though the main character’s private fears are projected outward, infesting his every gesture and every last inch of his home.”
Last November, the film played at BAM’s WCF series, but if you still haven’t caught up, you should be aware that the film is, as it has been for a year and a half now, available to stream, for free, on mubi.com. (Free registration required.) Go ahead, you’re not doing anything else this afternoon.