Fifth about The Seventh

The Housemaid (Hanyeo – 1960)

The Housemaid: this film, by Kim Ki-young, is an odd mixture of melodrama and thriller, with a pinch of social commentary to spice it further. Much of it doesn’t make much sense outside of the social norms of its time and place, but it looks and sounds absolutely stylish as it tells its story of obsession and infidelity. The main issue is that no character is particularly appealing, so the film is akin to watching a train wreck in real-time. Most of the reason comes from the elegant camerawork of cinematographer Kim Deok-jin, who makes wonderful use of the main setting, a two-story house created by art director Park Seok-in; at times he crowds the frame, at times he is slow to reveal who is part of the action. The expressive musical score by Han Sang-gi, often dissonant, often jazzy, does a lot of work too. The acting is a bit over-the-top; not so much with Kim Jin-kyu (who plays the husband), but very much so with Ju Jeung-nyeo (his wife) and Lee Eun-shim (the titular housemaid, a bit crazed and simple).

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