The Housemaid (2010 film)

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The Housemaid
The housemaid 2010 poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Hangul
Hanja
Revised Romanization Hanyeo
McCune–Reischauer Hanyŏ
Directed by Im Sang-soo
Produced by Jason Chae
Written by Im Sang-soo
Based on The Housemaid 
by Kim Ki-young
Starring Jeon Do-yeon
Lee Jung-jae
Seo Woo
Yoon Yeo-jeong
Music by Kim Hong-jib
Cinematography Lee Hyung-deok
Edited by Lee Eun-soo
Production
company
Mirovision
Distributed by Sidus FNH
Release dates
  • May 13, 2010 (2010-05-13)
Running time 107 minutes
Country South Korea
Language Korean
Box office US$14,775,615[1]

The Housemaid (Hangul: 하녀; RR: Hanyeo) is a 2010 South Korean melodramatic thriller film directed by Im Sang-soo. The story focuses on Eun-yi, played by Jeon Do-yeon, who becomes involved in a destructive love triangle while working as a housemaid for an upper-class family. Other cast members include Lee Jung-jae, Seo Woo and Yoon Yeo-jeong. The film is a remake of Kim Ki-young's 1960 film The Housemaid. It competed for the Palme d'Or at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival.[2]

Plot[edit]

Eun-yi is hired as an au pair for Hae-ra (pregnant with twins) and her rich husband Hoon. Eun-yi's primary task is watching the couple's young daughter, Nami. Eun-yi is eager to connect to Nami, who gradually warms to her. Hoon begins to secretly flirt with Eun-yi, enticing her with glasses of wine and his piano playing, and they eventually begin a sexual relationship. Despite the affair, Eun-yi is still warm and friendly to Hoon's oblivious wife, Hae-ra; she even expresses enthusiasm and delight at the progress of Hae-ra's pregnancy.

Byeong-sik, aka "Miss Cho" (the other live-in maid, originally Hae-ra's childhood maid) witnesses Eun-yi and Hoon having sex. She tries to subtly pry details from Eun-yi, but Eun-yi brushes her off casually. Later, Miss Cho reveals her suspicion to Hae-ra's mother that Eun-yi is pregnant. Hae-ra's mother then visits the family and stages an "accident", resulting in Eun-yi falling from a ladder positioned at the top of a set of stairs. Dangling from a chandelier, Eun-yi begs Hae-ra's mother to pull her over the railing. Hae-ra's mother does not oblige, and Eun-yi falls. Suffering only a concussion, Eun-yi spends the night in the hospital. During her stay, she learns that she is pregnant and contemplates abortion. Meanwhile, the affair is revealed to Hae-ra.

Hae-ra's mother, Mi-hee, instructs Hae-ra to ignore the affair; she insists that all wealthy husbands will eventually cheat and that if Hae-ra ignores it she can "live like a queen". Later that night, Hae-ra stands over Eun-yi's bed with a golf club but is unable to strike the sleeping woman. The next day, Hae-ra and her mother confront Eun-yi, offering her $100,000 to have an abortion and leave. Hae-ra knows that Eun-yi would not abort her child "for all the money in the world", so she takes matters into her own hands by poisoning the herbal medicine packets Eun-yi drinks every day. Hae-ra goes to the hospital and delivers her twin sons. Hoon visits the hospital, where Hae-ra makes her ill will toward him known. Furious, he returns home alone and finds Eun-yi in his bathtub. She reveals that she is pregnant and plans on keeping the baby.

Eun-yi succumbs to the effects of the poison, and Mi-hee arranges an abortion without Eun-yi's consent. After the abortion, Miss Cho reveals that she told Mi-hee about Eun-yi's pregnancy. Eun-yi is angry, but forgives Miss Cho and vows to get revenge on the family. After recovering from her abortion, Eun-yi sneaks into the house with Miss Cho's assistance. Hoon finds her breastfeeding one of the newborn babies. Hae-ra insists that Miss Cho chase Eun-yi out of the house, but Miss Cho refuses and quits her job on the spot. Eun-yi then confronts the entire family (Hae-ra, Mi-hee, Hoon, and Nami), hanging herself from the same chandelier she once clung to, then lighting her body on fire as the family watches in horror.

The final scene depicts the family outdoors in the snow celebrating Nami's birthday, all speaking English. While Hae-ra sings "Happy Birthday", Hoon hands a glass of champagne to Nami. Both appear insane as Nami looks on.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

An early draft of the screenplay was written by Kim Soo-hyun, but after director Im Sang-soo had edited the script so heavily that Kim considered it to be entirely Im's own work, she decided to leave the project and publicly expressed her dissatisfaction.[3] Although the film includes some key elements of the original, Kim Ki-young's The Housemaid from 1960, Im has said that he tried to never think of it during the production in order to come up with a modern and original work. One major difference between the versions is that the original film took place in the middle class, while the remake is set in an extreme upper-class environment. Im explains this with South Korea's social structure around 1960, which was a time when the country's middle class started to form and many poor people moved from the countryside to work in the cities: "women became housemaids who served not only for the rich but also the middle class and that issue had served as the basis to Kim Ki-young's work. What I realized upon reworking The Housemaid in 50 years was that there are much more wealthy people now, people who are millionaires. ... I wanted to depict the reality in which housewives from normal families have to undertake hard work too".[4] The film was produced by the Seoul-based company Mirovision.[5]

In the bird's-eye shots used in the film from time to time, a large ornate chandelier is an observer that looks down on the bourgeois family for which Eun-yi works. It also plays a role in the dramatic and tragic end of the movie’s heroine. That chandelier in all its detail is actually a copy of the 2008 work “Song of Dionysus” created by artist Bae Young-whan. The decision to include the chandelier in The Housemaid was quite a deliberate one. At first glance, the light fixture looks like an elegant Art Nouveau craft, but a closer look reveals that its green glass pieces are actually sharp shards from broken wine and soju bottles. In the same sense, the high-class family members in the movie look elegant at a glance but are actually selfish and cruel enough to break their housemaid's heart.[6]

Release[edit]

The film premiered in South Korea on May 13, 2010. Released by Sidus FNH, it opened on 679 screens and topped the box office chart for the first weekend with a revenue corresponding to around $5.7 million.[7] The number of screens had been reduced to 520 after week two, and The Housemaid dropped to second place on the chart, having been overtaken by How to Train Your Dragon.[8] Box Office Mojo reported a total revenue of $14,075,390 in the film's domestic market.[9] The film had 2,289,709 admissions nationwide being the 10th most attended domestic release of the year.[10] The international premiere took place on 14 May in competition at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival.[11] American distribution rights were acquired by IFC Films, who released it in 2011.[12]

Reception[edit]

Following the screening in Cannes, Maggie Lee of The Hollywood Reporter called the film "a flamingly sexy soap opera whose satire on high society is sometimes as savage as Claude Chabrol's La Cérémonie". However, Lee also found the film to have several prominent flaws: "plot developments are glaringly melodramatic" and "even with Jeon's calibrated performance, Eun‑yi's characterization is problematic...[T]he absence in motivation of her behavior does not really convince".[13] Lee Hyo-won of The Korea Times was all praises, saying that Im "brings a sexy, seamlessly quilted film that throbs with intrigue, lively characters and finely crafted melodrama".[14]

Awards and nominations[edit]

2010 Cannes Film Festival
2010 Chunsa Film Art Awards
2010 Buil Film Awards
2010 Grand Bell Awards
2010 Blue Dragon Film Awards
2010 Cinemanila International Film Festival
2010 Korean Film Awards
  • Best Supporting Actress - Yoon Yeo-jeong
  • Nomination - Best Actress - Jeon Do-yeon
  • Nomination - Best Supporting Actress - Seo Woo
  • Nomination - Best Art Direction - Lee Ha-joon
  • Nomination - Best Sound Effects - Lee Sang-joon, Kim Suk-won, Park Joo-kang
  • Nomination - Best Music - Kim Hong-jib
2010 Busan Film Critics Awards
2011 Max Movie Awards
2011 Asian Film Awards
2011 Fantasporto Director's Week

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Box office by Country: The Housemaid". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2012-06-04.
  2. ^ "Housemaid Director Delights in Cannes Invitation". The Dong-a Ilbo. 19 May 2010. Retrieved 2014-01-24. 
  3. ^ Lee, Hyo-won (2 November 2009). "Jeon Do-yeon Cast in The Housemaid". The Korea Times. Retrieved 2010-06-09. 
  4. ^ Lee, Ji-hye (4 May 2010). "Im Sang-soo says Jeon Do-youn is 'full-fledged artist'". 10Asia. Retrieved 2010-06-08. 
  5. ^ "The Housemaid". festival-cannes.com. Cannes Film Festival. Retrieved 2010-06-08. 
  6. ^ Moon, So-young (19 April 2012). "Bae Young-whan spotlights Korean social woes". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 2012-04-19. 
  7. ^ Han, Sunhee (17 May 2010). "Cannes' Housemaid Cleans up in Korea". Variety. Retrieved 2010-06-08. 
  8. ^ "South Korea Box Office, May 21–23, 2010". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2010-06-08. 
  9. ^ "South Korea Box Office, June 25–27, 2010". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2010-07-20. 
  10. ^ "Korean Movie Reviews for 2010". Koreanfilm.org. Retrieved 2012-06-04.
  11. ^ "The Screenings Guide". Cannes Film Festival. Retrieved 2010-06-08. 
  12. ^ "IFC Films books 'The Housemaid'". The Hollywood Reporter. 19 July 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-19. 
  13. ^ Lee, Maggie (14 May 2010). "The Housemaid -- Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2010-10-14. 
  14. ^ Lee, Hyo‑won (6 May 2010). "Housemaid is sexy, stylish, pulsating". The Korea Times. Retrieved 2010-05-06. 

External links[edit]