REVIEW: Park Chan-wook's 'Stoker'


Stoker is mesmerising. Directed by Park Chan-Wook and written by Wentworth Miller of Prison Break fame, this is probably best described as a very disturbing incestuous love triangle of sorts.

From the opening scene you are caught in the web of her flying hair, those hypnotic eyes and words that float over you. The film begins with India on her eighteenth birthday and as she hunts her birthday present news of a death comes crashing down. There are many curiosities about her, an ability to see and hear things not noticeable to others as well as her dislike to being touched. Her grief of the loss of her father has been taken over by the interest of gaining an unknown uncle. Mia Wasikowska is remarkable in teenage temper as India. She presents both beauty and plainness but always draws you in with every stare at the screen. Also she physically resembles Wednesday Adams at times.

Matthew Goode embodies every idea of the perfect man even when in the state of murder his ability to appear seductive is incredible as felt by India, his very pleasance is an almost sexual awakening for her. His character, Uncle Charlie fills a void quickly in their lives following the rather suspicious death of his brother, Richard Stoker. Goode has an ability to hold back and letting an almost natural charm take over the role, and his turn to darkness is quick and terrifying.

Nicole Kidman takes a very different role in this film compared to her others. Here she is a mother to a child who doesn’t love her back and has had to compete for her husbands’ affection against India which she brings up constantly after his death. She is understated in showing the strained relationship but there is a quiet sense of boiling disapproval and jealousy between them. Her desire to spend time with her daughter is now replaced with her desire for affection from Uncle Charlie. She wants him but not to be available for India because she has been in the middle of every chance of happiness and content in her eyes. Even when she realises the danger that Uncle Charlie possesses she still demands he choose her.
The music is as hypnotic as the cinematography. It helps maintains that sense of a sinister quality throughout. There is one scene that is just so insanely beautiful but the whole film just grasps you visually.

Stoker is a perversely sexual experience of darkness and wanting. But it it’s also about something really quite conservative in the sense that we want to find someone like us who is our soul mate. Obviously this isn’t a normal case of love and more about obsession. There is a magnetism that each character possesses and you taken with it. When the film ended I felt almost light headed but everything about the film was so clear in my mind. There not a thing at fault with this film and this is something I almost would never ever say. Or maybe just nothing that I’ve found or wanted to find. A remarkable achievement in film making and no one could have done the job better than a director like Park Chan-Wook who is unafraid of human nature and human capabilities. The best film of the year so far.