The Housemaid takes in the tradition of many South Korean films in the last ten years, with intricate character melodrama that reaches a slow boiling point which results in a shockingly violent climax. The outburst of over-the-top graphic violence at the end of the film is in contrast to the controlled manner in which the remainder of the film is constructed, showing both an even handed bit of filmmaking and the bold ability to push the envelope at the same time. This is just another example of yet another South Korean success, advancing the country’s reputation even further after less than 20 years of uncensored cinema.
A remake of the classic 1960 film, The Housewife is about a naïve young maid and a wealthy family accustomed to always having what they want. Eun-yi (Jeon Do-yeon) enters the home to take care of a pregnant wife and watch over the first-born child, and finds herself the target of attention from the husband instead. After late-night visits from the master of the house are discovered, Eun-yi finds herself between a rock and a hard place. Not even the help of a seasoned maid can save her from the wicked ways of the rich.
The storyline is never altogether surprising. In more ways than just the 1960 film, I feel as though I have watched this story before, but it is the stylish grace with which the subject is approached which sets the filmmaking aside in this film. Beautifully shot and excellently acted, The Housemaid is not in need of any twist ending to be a success, and yet there were still moments I found myself shocked and surprised.