Like most people, when you hear “Stoker,” you immediately associates it with “vampires”. To be honest, there’s been enough of those on film and television to – ironically – last a lifetime. But when you hear it with the director of Oldboy and that guy from Prison Break, it does raise intrigue.
“Stoker” is the latest film by acclaimed Korean director Park Woo-Chan and features the debut screenplay of Wentworth Miller. After her father’s sudden death, loner India (Mia Wasikowska) meets her uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode), a relative she’s never heard of. When her emotionally unstable mother (Nicole Kidman) invites him to stay, India’s curiosity in the enigmatic uncle grows with the wrong side of sexual tension between the three family members.
Dark drama laced with sexuality is not unfamiliar territory for Park, but for his first English-language film, he had to work harder to ‘translate’ his sinister and almost twisted style of storytelling to appease an influential Western audience. In addition to this, there is a highly rated screenplay making the rounds in Hollywood, that was not picked up for ages (almost like ‘the best of the worst’) and secretly written by a well-known TV actor, who chose to write under a pseudonym to detach his acting career from that of a promising screenwriter.
The use of colour is quite effective, and along with the use of special effects placed sporadically throughout the film, shapes it into more than a twisted family drama – it transforms it into a non-conventionally sinister and slightly gothic story, paving its way for the three leads, who all portray a difference side of madness in their unique way.
Wasikowska’s indifferent India starkly contrasts with the actress’s previous roles – smart, fascinated with death, she is reminiscent of a young Morticia Addams. She is more intriguing than Kidman’s emotionally reliant Evelyn, who makes it hard to sympathise with her shameless character as she doesn’t mourn her husband’s sudden death and chooses her brother-in-law for the attention and need to feel attractive. Finally shining in the same limelight, Matthew Goode gets a credible role to show off his talent – his sinister, disturbingly quiet demeanour is similar to his portrayal as Ozymandias from Watchmen, and leads the viewer down the rabbit hole of his dark intentions.
Easily one of the best screenwriting debuts of recent years, “Stoker” is chillingly good; a stylish, visual treat; full of intrigue with three great lead performances.
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