‘Oldboy’ Director Park Chan-Wook Set To Adapt Lesbian Period Piece ‘Fingersmith’

After a disappointing English-language sojourn in Stoker and Spike Lee taking an English-language dump on his most famous film, Oldboy director Park Chan-Wook is going back to his native tongue for his next film. And speaking of English and tongues, it’s based on a Victorian-set crime novel about lesbians, Sarah Waters’ Fingersmith. Dammit, why couldn’t Victorian-era lesbian crime have taken off instead of steampunk.

A Korean reinterpretation of Sarah Waters’ Victorian-era lesbian novel of the same title, Chan’s movie relocates the scene to Korea and Japan in the 1930s, when Korea was under Japanese occupation. The adaptation is written by Park’s long-term screenwriter Chung Seo-kyung (“Sympathy for Lady Vengeance,” “Thirst”). [Variety]

Here’s the book description:

Sue Trinder is an orphan, left as an infant in the care of Mrs. Sucksby, a “baby farmer,” who raised her with unusual tenderness, as if Sue were her own. Mrs. Sucksby’s household, with its fussy babies calmed with doses of gin, also hosts a transient family of petty thieves—fingersmiths—for whom this house in the heart of a mean London slum is home.

One day, the most beloved thief of all arrives—Gentleman, an elegant con man, who carries with him an enticing proposition for Sue: If she wins a position as the maid to Maud Lilly, a naïve gentlewoman, and aids Gentleman in her seduction, then they will all share in Maud’s vast inheritance. Once the inheritance is secured, Maud will be disposed of—passed off as mad, and made to live out the rest of her days in a lunatic asylum. [Amazon]

Stoker had a thin sheen of repressed propriety barely disguising the oh-so-lurid symbolism as Park grasped about for the most taboo ending, and I doubt that will be any different in a movie featuring a “Mrs. Sucksby” character. (Excuse me, that’s Ms. Sucksby to you). In fact it sounds like a particularly inspired porn parody (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

If Fingersmith hadn’t been written in 2002, I’d swear someone finally took my “Pride and Prejudice and Lesbians” idea to heart. Though this sounds much more Dickensian. A Tale of Two Cities Scissoring, say.