Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Tale of Two Housemaids

I'm not sure how long it's been available for free on MUBI, but since it is, there's no reason not to check out the original 1960 version of "The Housemaid." It's not as sleek or as capital-L lurid as the trailer (embedded below) for Im Sang-soo's remake, but for my money there's no femme fatale quite as unhinged Myong-ja (apart, perhaps, from Ann Savage's Vera in Detour).

What makes her even creepier than your garden variety Glenn Close or Alicia Silverstone obsessive female is how unknowable the character is. She creeps around outside in the rain. She hammers away at her master's piano. She does all these unnerving things, but it's not simply a case of love gone awry. There's a fire burning in Myong-ja that goes much deeper than that of a jilted lover or fed-up outcast. Her character earns that fourth-wall shattering disclaimer that follows the proper ending of the film. Philanderers, be warned: Mess around with the housemaid at your own peril.

Here's hoping Im Sang-soo (not Lee Chang-dong, as I mistakenly wrote in a previous post) captured some measure of that mysterious quality in Jeon Do-yeon, who plays the modern-day temptress.

No comments:

Post a Comment