As this year's Cannes comes to a close the buzz surrounding Park Chan-wook’s latest film is cause for serious anticipation. Due for distribution via MUBI in the coming months, Decision to Leave is a noir-tinged murder mystery that sees Chan-wook swaps his trademark visceral thrills for an elegantly paced and playful crime romance that is augmented by a star turn from Chinese actress Tang Wei as the seductive widow Seo-rae who becomes the prime suspect in a detective’s investigation of her husband’s murder.
This week’s Friday Night Film pick, Kim Ki-Young’s THE HOUSEMAID, is a film that continues to influence contemporary South Korean auteurs to this day. Its heady mixture of sensuality and psychological horror is heavily apparent throughout Park Chan-wook’s oeuvre while Bong Joon-ho’s Oscar-winning Parasite owes much of its impact to its predecessor’s sharply portrayed commentary on the dangers of wealth disparity.
While parallels with Decision to Leave exist, such as the cross over of such issues as infidelity and morality, and an alluring femme fatale at the heart of both films, The Housemaid is a much nastier watch, with the sexually predatory housemaid seducing the husband of a middle-class household to a horrific and tragic end.
Considered too vulgar and excessive upon its release in 1960, it was restored by the Korean Film Archive in association with Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project, a collection of underseen gems from across the globe that have been restored and preserved, and Kim Ki-Young’s now seminal piece of South Korean cinema has been added to MUBI’s streaming library.
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