Thursday, September 9, 2021

Vivamax: Review of THE HOUSEMAID: Vulnerable Victim

September 9, 2021

Tall and pretty Daisy (Kylie Versoza) was recruited by housekeeper Madam Martha (Jaclyn Jose) to be the maid in the household of millionaire couple William (Albert Martinez) and Roxanne (Louise delos Reyes) Romero, and be the nanny of their daughter Nami (Elia Ilano). Roxanne was then on her 9th month of pregnancy and was expected to deliver twins, so William was left frustrated as he could not satisfy his sexual needs. The naive Daisy just so happened to be available as a vulnerable outlet for his tension release.

This film by Roman Perez, Jr. is an adaptation of the 2010 Korean film of the same title by Im Sang-soo, which in turn was a loose adaptation of a 1960 Korean film of the same title by Kim Ki-young. The critically-acclaimed 2010 film was in competition for the Palm D'Or at Cannes that year, starring Cannes 2007 Best Actress (for Lee Chang-dong's "Secret Sunshine") Jeon Do-yeon in the title role. It also won several awards for its director and supporting actress Youn Yuh-jung (who just won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar earlier this year for "Minari"). 

This Filipino adaptation was practically a word-for-word translation of the Korean script, as well as scene for scene transposition of the 2010 Korean film. Even the grim prologue about a girl who jumped off a building, and the bizarre epilogue about a child's birthday party was there, even though these scenes seemed more like afterthoughts here than in the original. Director Perez had to vary some things to make the proceedings more Filipino in context, like making do without the chilly winter scenes or the Korean herbal health drink. 

Even with her maid's uniform or simple hair and make-up, Kylie Versoza still looked so much classier and prettier than Louise delos Reyes who played the wife Roxanne, or even Jeon Do-yeon who originated the role. With her doe eyes, shapely curves and long legs, Versoza was effortlessly sexy, even without overtly revealing everything. Albert Martinez can play the rich handsome master William blindfolded, but electricity felt lacking between him and Versoza during their seduction and sex scenes. This was in contrast with much rawer, more animalistic sex scenes between maid Eun-yi (Jeon) and her master Hoon (Lee Jung-jae) in the original. 

Jaclyn Jose made the most of her supporting role as the formidable Madam Martha, in a performance that felt stronger than that of Youn Yuh-jung before. In true Pinoy melodrama fashion, Perez even extended Martha's soliloquy of frustration over her station in life. Jose went all out in that acting showcase scene, with all the profane language she can muster. With her signature tongue-in-cheek humor in her line delivery, Alma Moreno felt less sinister in her role as Roxanne's intrusive mother Ester, than Park Ji-young in the original. Child actress Elia Ilano showed much promise and had good screen presence as little Nami. 

Director Perez did well in the choice of the Romero's fancy mansion, with the staircase, piano bathtub and imposing chandelier which would play major roles in the story. The pace of the storytelling was deliberately slow in keeping with the original, but the second act here felt rather lagging. The yawning gap between rich and poor that pervaded the original was not that pronounced here, perhaps due to casting choices.  Perez's recreation of the both the notoriously disturbing bathtub scene and shocking climax in the living room were very well done, quite matching the impact of the original (especially for those who have not seen it). 7/10. 


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