The cover of the DVD of this 2010 South Korean film advertises it as “a sexy thriller” with star Jeon Do-youn showing her thigh no doubt to entice the punter but in fact it’s a beautifully-observed film which reminded me of Rebecca.
His wife is pregnant with twins and Eun-yi has to care for their young daughter. Hooh Goh seduces Eun-yi who becomes pregnant. The women of the house, the wife and her villainous matriarch of a mother, conspire to get rid of her in every sense.
At first I thought she was a sinister Mrs Danvers figure but she turns out to be sympathetic to Eun-yi. It all ends dramatically with a clever postscript.
Why did I like it so much?
Hollywood films now are invariably the product of ‘me too’ with clever women dominating.
Here was a film in which a woman was genuinely abused and taken advantage of.
However it was shaded. Eun-yi enjoyed the first sexual experience with Hooh Goh, even contributed to it willingly, and perhaps her acquiescence was part of far Eastern sexual culture.
The languid way Hooh Goh drank his expensive red wine, offering some to Eun, created a plausible if disgusting character.
Even he was shaded, as he is musically talented and assumed some responsibility for his acts.
Ang Lee has done a lot for Far East cinema. However this film and The Handmaiden emphasise he is not the only director of note from that region. The director here is Im Sang Soo and this film was nominated for the Palme d’Or at Cannes where world cinema is treated more seriously than in the Academy in Hollywood.