"The Housemaid"

  • Article by: COLIN COVERT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 17, 2011 - 2:52 PM

A Korean suspense tale.

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Jeon Do-youn in "The Housemaid"

 

★★★ 1/2 out of four stars • Rating: Unrated. Theater: Lagoon.

 "The Housemaid" scores on so many levels it's hard to know where to begin. Cannes Best Actress winner Jeon Do-youn ("Secret Sunshine") is entrancing as a servant girl ensnared in a wealthy family's power struggles.

An innocent young thing from the streets, she appears to be docile, more an appliance to the very pregnant lady of the house than a human being. But when the master of the house takes a liking to the new girl, an unpredictable emotional cat-and-mouse game begins. Toss a Machiavellian mother-in-law and an inscrutable housekeeper into the mix, and you have a formula for rip-roaring domestic drama.

Im Sang-soo's direction is the last word in creepy elegance, and the finale, which ties the dreadful family's cruelty and sexual obsession to a prominent American dynasty, is a wicked kick in the pants. Prepare to have your nerves jangled.

COLIN COVERT

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