What is it about: Acclaimed Chinese director Lou Ye (Suzhou River, Summer Palace) presented his latest work at this year’s Cannes Film Festival to mixed reviews. Like most reviewers, we absolutely love the lucidity and rawness of the film (think Happy Together meets Breathless), although the plot does get a tad melodramatic. A woman (Jiang Jiaqi) learns that her husband (Wu Wei) is having an affair with another man (Qin Hao) after hiring a male detective (Chen Sicheng) to spy on him. But soon the detective gets smitten by the other man, and has an affair with him instead, to the disapproval of the detective’s girlfriend (Tan Zhou), who must decide if she still wants in on the relationship or to walk away.
Who’s in it: Mostly unknown mainland Chinese actors, although the acting is convincing throughout. Qin Hao, who bears a slight resemblance to Happy Together’s Chang Chen, received a Best Actor nomination nod at the 47th Golden Horse Awards (Taiwan’s equivalent of the Oscars).
Behind closed doors: Like Happy Together, the film opens with a torrid sex scene. Later on, we see more male on male action between the other man and the detective in the shower which looked it like it was played for real. Oh, and there’s another scene involving the detective and his wife, too. Yes, it all gets very, very complicated.
Overall sexiness: . All the men in the film are bisexual in some inexplicable way, and it seems like they’ll pretty much have a go at anything that moves. Director Lou Ye conveys the transient and lucid nature of love and sex beautifully in this film through fiercely spontaneous performances and gritty cinematography which adds to its French New Wave feel. TO
What is it about: A Fatal Attraction type horror thriller based on a 1960 Korean classic of the same name, The Housemaid aims to shock and pretty much nothing else. Unlike its century old, black and white counterpart, this one bears not a shred of social conscience—every main character seems to be equally and exceptionally flawed. A wide-eyed, (deceivingly) innocent woman (Jeon Do Yeon) moves into an opulent household as the family’s “hanyo” (housemaid) and gets involved in a sordid affair with the man of the house (Lee Jung Jae), resulting in very extreme (and predictable) consequences.
Who’s in it: The award-winning Jeon Do Yeon is no stranger to the image of the desperate, broken woman, having played similar roles in Secret Sunshine and My Dear Enemy. She lends a certain emotion (we’re not sure if it was pity or disgust) to an otherwise cold film. Look out for the waif-like, doe-eyed actress Seo Woo who plays the young benevolent wife—she’s a stunner.
Behind closed doors: It basically goes like this: The maid is naked in bed with her laptop. Her boss walks into her bedroom with a bottle of wine. She seduces him—yawn. Once you’ve gotten over how the “victim” doesn’t seem to be victimized at all, you will notice how the beautiful and heavily-pregnant wife punctuates every few scenes with some extreme yoga poses—the sexiest bit of the film as far as we’re concerned.
Overall sexiness: . It seems director Im Sang-Soo merely rode on the success of Kim Soo-Hyun’s original to make this movie work. Besides the skeletal plot, almost nothing else is similar. What you’re left with, then, is the rudely shocking ending typical of most Korean thrillers. HS