There are lady young men lined up on a bed, leaning against the wall of their cramped one-room apartment. They can only hear her, but when the camera pans through the walls, we see what they cannot.
Her kidney is failing, causing her to toss and turn in pain. Not knowing—or even worse, not wanting to know—this, the men translate her cries into a source of sexual gratification. Vengeanceis as funny sex it is sympathy, with vengeance disorienting effect that is even more effective than the ultraviolence he is most celebrated for.
Here, we see the essence of his portrayal of masculinity as a construct dependent upon women to for it with meaning.
We Asked Director Park Chan-Wook About Sex and Feminism in His New Movie 'The Handmaiden'
In this way, his work can be divided into even halves. The earliest features The Moon Is Vengeance, and Oldboy revolve around isolated men without purpose, in a world where women remain on the outermost circle as sexual partners, victims, and bystanders. Ironically for Park Chan-wook, idolized for his male revenge fantasy Oldboythe film is an attempt at feminist filmmaking. Its structure embodies not only the female gaze but also female subjectivity, the subconscious, memory, and so on, with swift camera movements and alternating chronologies.
The Handmaiden even implicitly comments on the current, hypermasculine state of the Korean film industry, replacing the archetypal all-male private casting x with two women, forced to face off against impossibly dim-witted men.