Martin Carter reports back from the Toronto International Film Festival 3
Posted 13 September 2016
Saturday night at TIFF saw Park Chan-Wook introduce his new film, The Handmaiden, to a North American audience for the first time. Eschewing the director's usual displays of extreme violence (well, apart from one bit) this film finds Park in a somewhat lighter mood but as audacious as ever. Set in Japanese-occupied Korea in the 1930s it is the tale of a devious swindle that goes awry in a number of surprising ways - I shall say no more about the plot than that - and is a box of cinematic and narrative delights. Park is a favourite in Toronto and he received a rapturous welcome from a packed Elgin theatre audience of more than 1500 souls and we were then treated to two and a quarter hours of dazzling storytelling that combined sumptuous visuals, sensual eroticism and narrative surprises to delirious effect.
It was about one hour in when the film has just pulled the carpet out from under your feet that I sat back smiling to myself, realising that Park is probably the most exciting filmmaker working in cinema today. I am sure the film will get a UK release (probably in 2017 knowing how slow foreign releases take to reach our screens) and I will be more than ready to savour its delights again,
Not everything showing at TIFF takes forever to be available to wider audiences; the Netflix produced documentary Amanda Knox is a superb documentary on the infamous murder of British student Meredith Kercher and subsequent media frenzy and judicial circus that followed. Told from the perspective of Knox, the film gives her, the police investigating the murder and journalists covering the case a chance to tell their story and leave the audience to make up their mind on Knox’s guilt or audience. Although the Kerchers do not participate in the film the tragedy of Meredith’s violent death is never lost in this riveting film. Highly recommended and due to be on Netflix at the end of September.