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11 March 2013 @ 12:03 am
Film Review: Stoker  
A film about family secrets starring Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode, and Nicole Kidman.

India Stoker (Wasikowska) has lost her father, Richard (Dermot Mulroney) to a senseless car accident on the day of her 18th birthday. At the funeral, she meets for the first time her Uncle Charlie (Goode) who has recently returned from traveling the world. Very quickly he settles himself into the house with India and India's unfulfilled, deeply bitter mother, Evelyn (Kidman). Almost immediately India gets the feeling that Charlie is not exactly all he seems. But then again, neither is India.

I mainly wanted to see this movie as it is the first English language film by South Korean director, Park Chan-Wook. He's the director of Oldboy as well as the Korean vampire film, Thirst. I was super curious how he'd do his first film made in a completely different language. The results are a bit of a mixed bag. Story wise, Stoker is pretty thin. More or less from the start you can sort of figure out what's going on. The twists are hardly twists and more like tepid turns. However, the acting all around is pretty stellar.

The film really belongs to Wasikowska who is in just about every single scene as the mysterious, detached India. She's the one who has to shoulder the most in terms of playing a complex, mostly silent character without coming off as completely dull. And she pretty much succeeds. By the end of the film when all is revealed regarding her character, you see the full character arc for her and how she ultimately became the person she always knew deep down she was. However, most of my acting applause goes to Matthew Goode. He's not an actor I was ever really all that impressed by but found him cast to near perfection in this film. His looks and his demeanor is so perfectly fit for a character like Charlie who initially comes off as charming and urbane until the camera continues to linger and linger and soon he starts to come off as incredibly creepy and repulsive.

The direction was very Park Chan-Wook only dialed down a few notches. This wasn't exactly a bad thing since in the past one of the biggest criticisms I had for him (as well as many other Korean directors) is that the film lasts about 1 hour too long. Stoker does drag in parts but never to the point where I stopped caring what was happening. It was largely the acting that kept me going as I really did by the end want to know where everyone was going to end up, even if it was pretty obvious where they all began.