The Housemaid (2010)

 ((summary taken from Asia Torrents))

  The Housemaid (2010) / Hanyo 

Warning : Contains Adult Content

Poor divorcee Eun Yi, gladly signs on to work as a nanny and housemaid for a wealthy, upper-crust family. In her naive eyes, the rich and handsome Hoon (Lee Jung Jae, Typhoon), his pregnant wife Hae Ra (Seo Woo, Paju), and adorable daughter (Ahn Seo Hyun) make the picture-perfect family. But that myth is soon shattered when the domineering Hoon finds his way to her bed. Their torrid affair upsets the balance of the household, unleashing a cruel power struggle as Hae Ra, her mother (Park Ji Young), and the head housekeeper (Yoon Yeo Jung) all answer with their own calculated measures.

A highly anticipated remake of Kim Ki Young's 1960 classic, which is widely regarded as one of the best Korean films ever made.

((This review will contain spoilers))

Download: Asia Torrents
(this is the only version I've found that has the correct subs uploaded)

My Rating:


To be honest, when I was watching this, I wasn't very impressed. My mind kept revolting against the changes they made, and how different it was from the original. It was difficult to see all the roles being reversed, and finding myself having to cheer for the "villain" when in the original, you were cheerfully anticipating her demise. In this way, much of the story was almost unrecognizable.

And yet, somehow, surprisingly enough, by the end it all came together beautifully.

It took me awhile to get drawn in, but once I was able to separate this film from its predecessor, and view it on its own merits, I began to really enjoy the clever changes and the additional conflicts the secondary characters brought to the table. Aside from the affair, very little is actually derived from the classic 60's version.

Of course, the acting and directing were PHENOMENAL: every shot is beautifully framed, and any fan of Lee Jung-jae (who was hot as hell) should watch it for the fan-service alone, lol. Really though, you have to give the writer and director props for completely reinventing the story and not riding the coat-tails of its insanely popular source material. They took a leap of faith, and in the end, I think it really paid off.

I do, however, have one major complaint: I really dislike how they portrayed the housemaid as a hapless victim, rather than an unhinged psychopath or home-wrecker. Here, it's understandable, since the moral and tone is completely different from the 60s version, and such a heartless character wouldn't be fitting.

But they tried SO hard to make her likable, that in the end, she didn't feel real or genuine. We're told repeatedly that she's sweet, innocent, and naive . . . and yet, after he makes the first move, she's an eager and willing participant, who shows no concern whatsoever over how her actions affect the mother and child she's caring for. In fact, it isn't until the affair and pregnancy are discovered that she finally shows any signs of guilt ("I should've thought of madam... I did a horrible thing.") DUH, idiot! For someone who's so good-hearted, it sure took you long enough!

And yes, the husband had a part to play in it too, but we're never meant to sympathize with him. So why should I care when it all blows up in her face? If I was the wife, I would've smacked her too!

As terrible as it sounds, I almost wish the husband had raped her. At least then we would've had some fantastic motivation for her revenge, a much better representation of the poor vs rich dichotomy, and a truly inspired ending to tie it all together.

Instead, I can't help but think that none of them are blameless, least of all the housemaid . . . which makes the ending lose most of its punch. It would've been more powerful if the lines of right/wrong hadn't been quite so blurred.

Still though, I liked it. There's something amusing about the fact that nobody really learned anything, and that their lives will continue in much the same vein as before. The rich family will keep right on being rich entitled snobs (though the daughter may eventually break away from the herd), while the elderly housekeeper will probably retire with her prosecutor son, who owes his success to that same family she constantly cursed.

If anything, the ending makes the parallels between the original and this remake all the more glaring. Where before, the moral was for men to be wary of cheating; here, it's like there is no moral, lol. Go on and cheat men. If you're lucky, she'll go crazy and off herself. ;)

In conclusion: Great movie, though not nearly as good as its predecessor. Of course, remakes rarely are.

Comments

  1. Excellent review. I had fun learning from some of your words.

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