Since the release of his first English-language film Stoker, Korean director Park Chan-wook has been circling a multitude of other projects without settling on one. Now we have reports that he’s finally decided on his next film: an adaptation of Sarah Waters’ novel Fingersmith, about female thieves in Victorian London. Chan-wook’s version of Fingersmith will be set in his native Korea during Japanese rule.
Fingersmith tells the story of a young female thief named Sue Trinder, an orphan raised in the slum home of petty thieves, who becomes involved with a con artist named Gentleman. Hoping to repay the kindness of her adoptive family, Sue agrees to Gentleman’s plan to help seduce the wealthy and naive Maud Lilly. Once they secure the woman’s inheritance, Lilly will be disposed of in a mental institution and Sue and her family will share in the wealth. Fingersmith has already been made into a well-thought-of miniseries by the BBC, and is notable for being one of the more tender and serious treatments of a lesbian relationship during the Victorian period.
Park Chan-wook’s film version of the novel will be called Agashi – literally “young lady” or “miss” – and it is not yet clear how he’ll transpose the setting of Victorian London to Korea. Given his remarkable and elegant treatment of Stoker though, another film featuring a complex female protagonist, I have great hopes for this adaptation. Chan-wook’s films are always fascinating to watch, and with any luck, this one will be no different.
Production on Fingersmith/Agashi will begin next year. We are waiting to hear about the all-important female leads, as well as further plot details of the adaptation, and will bring those to you just as soon as we hear anything new. For now, it’s an intriguing announcement from one of cinema’s finest living directors.