¨Sometimes you need to do something bad to stop you from doing something worse.¨
I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed Chan-wook Park´s first American film considering it hadn’t received as much critical acclaim as his Korean films did. I liked Oldboy, but wasn’t a huge fan like most people, but somehow I ended up being blown away with how artistic and well made this movie was. Park can take you to dark places and his movies can be disturbing. Stoker is no exception. Park creates a dark and provocative thriller that begins at a slow pace but the tension begins to rise as we get to the climatic and surprising ending. Park´s film is very stylish, and I don’t think I have seen better camerawork and editing in a film this year. I was blown away with the images and the twists that Park creates in this film. Stoker proves that it is not necessary to sympathize for any of the characters in order for the viewer to care for what is happening. None of these characters are likeable, but Park creates such a dark and twisted atmosphere that I wanted to know what was going to happen next. The slow opening scenes were very stylish and gorgeous to look at. I was completely hooked with the story from the beginning. I was surprised to discover that the script was written by Wentworth Miller (the actor from Prison Break and Resident Evil Afterlife) because the story was pretty gripping. I don’t know if it would have worked in another director´s hands, but Park made the script look good. If this was Park´s first American film, I can´t wait to see what he does next. This film also made me want to watch Oldboy again and see what I missed the first time considering I was a much younger viewer. Park will definitely be on my radar from now on.
India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska) has always been very close to her father, Richard (Dermot Mulroney), but has never connected well with her emotionally unstable mother Evie (Nicole Kidman). India isn’t a normal teenage girl herself; she is socially awkward and doesn’t like to be touched. She lives in a large family estate in a peaceful town surrounded by the woods. On the day of her 18th birthday, she receives the news that her father has passed away in a freak car accident. During his funeral, India is introduced to her Uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode), Richard´s estranged brother whom he has never mentioned before. Evie invites Charlie to stay with them, and despite being attracted to him in some sort of bizarre way India isn’t happy with his presence in their estate. Charlie seems to have some ulterior motives, but everyone in the family acts in a bizarre way. This isn’t your typical family and everyone seems to have some disturbed troubled past. Charlie seems to be taken with India, but she distrusts his intentions. As the movie begins to unfold we discover some hidden secrets from the family´s past.
I´ve mentioned how much I liked Park´s direction and Miller´s script, but I also have to give credit to Wasikowska´s performance. She gives a very strong performance as this troubled teen who is struggling to accept her infatuation with her estranged uncle. She has some very difficult scenes here and she delivers at every turn. She is the highlight of this film, although Matthew Goode has some great moments as well and some strange sort of chemistry going on with Wasikowska. The film finds a perfect balance between being disturbingly dark and beautifully stylish. I was really hooked with this thriller and would definitely watch this film again. Stoker may not be as raw and shocking as Oldboy but it still has its twisted and disturbing moments. Park´s style may not be for everyone, but I enjoy his craft and artistic style.