Fri 18 Feb 2011
Remakes are rarely a good idea. Of late, it usually means the people fronting the money are looking more for a return on their investment than a chance to be a part of something creative or worthwhile.
One of the very few arguments I can at least wrap my head around is remaking a film for a whole new generation. Within the span of 30 years, a lot can change from technological and cultural standpoints. When it comes to the Korean film, “The Housemaid”, this remake comes 50 years later and while I haven’t seen the original (which was very popular there), I will say that this updated version is a very welcome breath of fresh air in a murky cinematic landscape at this time of the year.
As the title implies, the central character is a maid … well, more importantly, she’s the nanny and this is where trouble sets in. Hired to work for a super rich family, she helps take care of their young daughter while mom is about to burst with twins and dad drinks his red wine … oh, did I mention he also likes to stoop the help?
Their indiscretion leads to a wonderful and satiric spotlight on class and ethics, all while within a fairly well done thriller. As this isn’t under the purview of the typical Hollywood machine, we’re not sure just how far either side will go. To that effect, the standouts of the film are the four women at the center of it all: the housemaid, another more senior maid, the wife, and her mother. Each character is beautifully portrayed, hitting each element of their station just right.
My only complaints would be that we see where things are going rather quickly, making it feel a little dragged out and that the ending seemed a bit nonsensical. I almost thought that something had gotten lost in the translation but that’s not to say that I didn’t like the choices made by the characters in getting to that point.
That aside, “The Housemaid” is another film that shows exactly how far mothers will go to protect their children and this would make a delicious pairing with last year’s “Mother” (also from Korea). A 4 out of 5, film fans not still catching up with Oscar nominees have this and very little else in the marketplace at the moment.