four people in suits and dresses in a stately looking house in the film The Handmaiden

Hot Reels: ‘Raw’, ‘The Handmaiden’ & ‘Handsome Devil’

Whether you’re in the mood for a horror like ‘Raw’, an exotic drama like ‘The Handmaiden’ or something a little closer to home like ‘Handsome Devil’, you’ll find something in the cinema worth watching

 

This article was originally published in GCN Issue 328 (April 2017) which is available to read in full here.

 

Raw

This month sees the release of French horror, Raw (April 7). Be warned: paramedics were called after some Toronto lm goers fainted during a screening of the movie. Cinemas in LA even provided audiences members with sick bags on the way in. So, you know, maybe don’t ll up on steak tartare and foie gras before you go.

Raw follows the life of Justine, a precocious vegetarian veterinarian student who turns from plant-eater to ravenous cannibal after being forced to eat a raw rabbit liver during a vet school initiation.

After going full-Hannibal on the bunny liver, Justine’s appetite for organs and offal escalates to a point where only the rarest (pun de nitely intended) meat of all will do: human. As director Julia Ducournau has been quick to clarify, Raw is no generic gore-fest; though it maybe gruesome it is also a nuanced coming-of-age story that deserves more than to be classed as garden-variety ‘body horror’.

 

 

The Handmaiden

Mid-month sees the release of the The Handmaiden (April 14), based on Sarah Waters’ 2005 bestselling lesbian novel Fingersmith. However, director Park Chan-wook (Lady Vengeance, Oldboy) has transplanted the action from Victorian-era Britain to 1930s Korea, during the Japanese occupation.

The action centres on Tamako, a poor villager hired by well-to-do Japanese heiress, Lady Hideko to be her handmaiden. So, Tamako packs her bags and heads off for a life off domestic servitude in a Lady Hideko’s plush country pile.

But Tamako is actually a con-woman named Sook-hee working with a partner, Count Fujiwara, to cheat Lady H out of her riches. This is easier said than done, however, especially when Sook-hee begins to develop feelings for Lady H.

 

Handsome Devil

Also this month, another coming-of-age movie (sans entrails this time, thankfully), Irish-made Handsome Devil (April 21). Set in a rugby-mad boys boarding school, it follows two opposites, nerdy, musical Ned and rugger alpha male Conor.

Ned (Fionn O’Shea) is sent to boarding school by his disinterested father (Ardal O’Hanlon) and wicked stepmother (Amy Huberman), despite hating rugby, and the regular anti-gay bullying that inevitably comes with hating rugby in a sports-obsessed school. When handsome rugby legend Conor (Nicholas Galitzine) is assigned to his room, Ned immediately assumes the worst and erects a ‘Berlin Wall’ to keep himself safe.

But Conor isn’t simply one-dimensional meat-head worthy of only Ned’s contempt – he is a man of hidden depths, as Ned eventually discovers. Helmed by gay writer/directer John Butler and featuring an amazing cast (which includes Sherlock’s Andrew Scott and Game of Thrones’ villainous Michael McElhatton), Handsome Devil is a solid Irish movie, and a worthy addition to the pantheon of excellent recent Irish movie releases.

 

Which film are you most looking forward to? Raw, The Handmaiden or Handsome Devil? Let us know in the comments below.

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