The Handmaiden and A Quiet Passion: the best films out now in the UK

Sarah Water’s Fingersmith is transported to 1930s Korea with aplomb, while Cynthia Nixon excels as Emily Dickson

Last modified on Sun 20 Sep 2020 09.55 EDT

Obscenely sensuous ... Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden.

1 The Handmaiden (18)

(Park Chan-wook, 2016, S Kor) 156 mins

Sarah Waters’s Fingersmith doesn’t just survive the journey to 1930s Korea; it blossoms into something exotic, beguiling and almost obscenely sensuous. Seduction and deception are the story’s primary instruments, as we’re drawn into a conwoman’s elaborate plot to disinherit a wealthy heiress, complicated by feelings both true and perverted.

2 I Am Not Your Negro (12A)
(Raoul Peck, 2016, Fra/US) 92 mins

Watch the trailer for I Am Not Your Negro.

A remembrance of James Baldwin becomes a rousing essay on the state of modern American race relations in this powerful documentary, which uses a collage of past and present-day footage – including clips of Baldwin himself in full oratorial flight – to drive home the prescience and pertinence of his writings.

3 Fast & Furious 8 (12A)
(F Gary Gray, 2017, US) 136 mins

Back and bigger than ever ... the new F&F movie.

Buoyed by the success of its predecessor, the Top Gear of movie franchises goes even bigger, packing Charlize Theron, Helen Mirren and more into an already crowded cast, and orchestrating a succession of ever more outlandish stunts. As usual, the plot is almost nonsense, but turbocharged spectacle wins the day.

4 Raw (18)
(Julia Ducournau, 2016, Fra/Bel) 99 mins

Appetites are whet and gorily sated in this artfully gruesome French horror film, in which a meek new veterinary student is initiated into a campus environment of hazing rituals, wild parties, sexual longings and all manner of fresh meat. It could have been a lurid shocker, but it’s executed with some refinement.

5 A Quiet Passion (12A)
(Terence Davies, 2016, UK/Bel) 125 mins

Cynthia Nixon excels as Emily Dickinson in a finely crafted biopic that in no way romanticises the poet’s life or work. Rather, she’s the victim of an austerely religious family, romantic solitude and debilitating illness, though you’d never call Davies’s nuanced, socially aware story a weepie.

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