The Housemaid is an Asian remake of an earlier film that basically has the same premise as the old version. Eun-yi, a middle-aged divorcee, is hired as an upper class family housemaid. But soon enough, master of the house Hoon takes advantage of his position by having sex with her. Of course, with all things that revovle around this kind of behavior, the man’s affair with his family’s housemaid leads to dark consequences. I suppose it should go without saying that this is a dark movie with a handful of sex scenes and graphic parts. It is another example of a Korean filmmaker taking a recognized genre and turning it on its head.
Although the 2010 version differs from the original in many aspects, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a bad thing. While heavy-handed, these points do strike home as all the family get involved. What follows is a story of revenge, and shines a light on a period when the middle class was under a lot of economic pressure. Yet her loyalty seems unwavering, and perhaps this fact justifies her actions. The problem is that when vengeance finally raises its murderous head, which we all see a mile away, it doesn’t quite live up to the hype. However, her performance was amazing and Seo Woo did a decent job.
On the surface the meaning is obvious, but what makes this film so good, despite the obvious flat ending, is how smart it plays out. It isn’t your normal fluff — she gets pregnant, and stuff happens, and more stuff happens. Instead, as we witness the transformation of Eun-Yi played by Jeon Do-youn from naive nanny to broken-down and defeated, we realize how truly heartbreaking everything really is. You see, the whole thing is about the gender relations in a middle class family. I think we can all relate in one way or another.
It’s nicely shot though, well produced and entertaining. Although there is a big plothole in the fact it doesn’t explain why she doesn’t just walk away from the obviously hostile household, as the film progresses, the sex scenes go up and up. Perhaps lust plays a big part in the turmoil? It is almost like it could be like a natural progression of her existing duties. When the credits start rolling I felt a bit underwhelmed by what I saw, despite all the praise I have given it. Sure, it is a daring film, but the scenario stretches too long in the later parts of the film, and quite honestly, it is an exhausting theme. Seo Woo is remarkable as the pregnant wife, and the score, script and atmosphere are all great, but in the end, it climax brings it back down to slightly above average.