‘Oldboy’ and ‘Stoker’ Director Park Chan-Wook Is Planning His Next Film

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Focus Features

Lesbians are so in right now, and that’s only partially facetious. In Carol, one of the year’s finest films, Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara play star-crossed lovers first exploring their forbidden urges during the cloistered 1950s. And in The Duke of Burgundy, another one of this year’s standout pictures (give it a look on Netflix and see for yourself, I implore you), two women test the bounds of their deeply committed relationship with sadomasochistic roleplay games that reveal untold depths of devotion and desperation. Hey, it’s almost as if the film industry has finally snapped out of it and realized that compelling, nuanced love stories can and should be told regardless of the participants’ genders! What a world!

And it looks like another lesbian cinema classic is well on its way to American arthouses. South Korean filmmaker Park Chan-Wook sat down for an interview with Variety at the Marrakech Film Festival, in which he detailed his plans for his next picture, an adaptation of Sarah Waters’ novel Fingersmith. The director of such films as Stoker, the original Oldboy, and the dizzying vampire romance Thirst spoke about his intention to retitle the upcoming project as The Hand Maiden for its U.S. release, though unlike Stoker, this film will not be in English or employ Hollywood actors. While Waters’ original novel revolves around a furtive romance between a high-society mistress and her handmaiden, Park confirmed that he’s tinkered with the source material quite a bit, to the point that Waters herself requested he frame the film as “inspired by” rather than ”based on” her novel. The male character who acted as a sort of intermediary between the two women will play an increased role, Park revealed, and the setting has been moved to 1930s Korea, a period of military occupancy from the Japanese.

Park’s past films have been dark affairs about the perils of obsession and the difficulty of refusing the soul’s more ignoble urges. But Park assured Variety that The Hand Maiden would be a different sort of film, saying “It’s more about the joy of eroticism, instead of guilt. It’s essentially a liberation from a sense of guilt.” There’s no timeline for a release as of yet, but when there is, every lesbian in America is going to have the perfect highbrow date night gift-wrapped for them.

Take a look at the first image from the production below:

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