The Housemaid (1960)

By: Henry J. Fromage (Five Beers) –
How many beers do you recommend for this movie?
1 Beer! A Toast! Great Movie!2 Beers! Good Movie!3 Beers! Okay Movie!4 Beers! Mediocre Movie!5 Beers! Awful Movie!6-Pack! Bad movie! Do not be Sober!

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I’m a big fan of Korean cinema.  For the size of the country, the amount of master-level directors coming out of here is stunning, and as unique as their talents are, there’s a dark, twisted, clever through-line to their work that always assures you that you’re watching a Korean film.

oldboy

Sometimes, it’s pretty much the whole movie

Kim Ki-Young’s 1960 classic, The Housemaid, is where that all started.  Kim Jin-Kyu stars as a married piano teacher at a girl’s school who keeps attracting unwanted suitors, because this blandly handsome family man is apparently the most desirable guy in Korea.  When his wife requests a housemaid to help her out in her late pregnancy, he asks one smitten student to recruit one for him.  Surprise!  This girl also wants the D, and she’s crazier than the rest of them put together.

A Toast

This movie does so, so much right, but in the end is entertaining from precisely the wrong reasons.  It’s very well-shot, often inventively so, and the ending in particular is a nice creative touch possibly signaling a shy self-awareness.  Possibly.

One thing I can say is that the film is much more daring both in subject matter and execution than anything Hollywood was putting out in 1960.  Sex is a thing.  Nipples! Women smoke.  Maybe even they drive.  The sky’s the limit.  The acting is also good, with Lee Eun-Shim genuinely creepy as hell.  My fave, though, is Little Changsoon, who’d give Prince Joffrey a run for his money in the burgeoning sociopath department.  He’s hilarious.

Beer Two

The problems start from the premise.  Mr. Kim’s dick must grant wishes (So… he’s a Penie Genie?).  All womenfolk are powerless before it, much to his chagrin.  In fact, they’d rather die than not have it.  Needless to say, this might be the most misogynistic movie I’ve ever seen.

public-enemy-o

In The Housemaid, the grapefruit-facing is “symbolic”.

Beer Three

While it’s tempting to view this as a satire, the deadly, earnestly serious script makes it clear that it’s not.  It’s basically an anti-cheating PSA that acknowledges the impossibility of not cheating… You know, what with all the young, nubile girls throwing themselves at you.  The script is also full of non-sequitur nonsense and unintentional laughs.  It’s great.

Beer Four

This year, I saw someone refer to August: Osage County as “an overacting competition, and everyone wins!”  That’s amateur hour compared to this film.  This is a soap opera overacting competition, and yes, everyone wins.

days-of-our-lives

Days of Our Lives: now that’s some next-level shit

Beer Five

One of my favorite parts of the film is when the husband blames his infidelity on his wife’s request for a new house.  Without that new house, he wouldn’t have needed to hire that sexy, crazy housemaid.  Even better, at the end the wife exclaims “I shouldn’t have asked for that house!”  Because yes, that is the lesson to take away from this.

An alternative lesson, based on the direct correlation in the film between women smoking and lose morality, is “Don’t start smoking.  It leads to hot sex, illegitimate babies, staircase abortions, multiple attempted and realized murders, and suicide.  Seriously folks, don’t start smoking (if you’re a woman).

Verdict

5Beers1-300x102

The seeds that would grow into Oldboy, Pieta, A Tale of Two Sisters, and practically every other classic of modern Korean cinema were sewn here.  That alone is reason enough to give it a watch, but if you need another, melodramas don’t get any more hilariously, unintentionally entertaining than this.  An exceptionally well made catastrophe.

 

Drinking Game

Take a Drink: whenever cigarettes = sex

Take a Drink: every time the wife screams

Take a Drink: for rats

Take a Drink: for sexy piano time

Take a Drink: every time a woman throws herself at the composer

Take a Drink: whenever infidelity is talked about or occurs

Do a Shot: whenever little Changsoon acts like a dick

About Henry J. Fromage

Movieboozer is a humor website and drinking games are intended for entertainment purposes only, please drink responsibly.

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