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I could go on, but why? If you want to see a flash of Mia's right nipple during her masturbating scene, fine, but that's about the best this picture has to offer. To compare it to Hitchcock's masterpieces does the rotund fellow disrespect. 'Stealing' his ideas and techniques is for student films. We don't need any more 'homages'.
Stoker focuses on the titular family of India, Evelyn, and Richard Stoker (Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, and Dermot Mulroney). When Richard dies in a mysterious car crash, his oddball daughter India begins to further distance herself from her estranged mother, Evelyn. After burying their patriarch, the family is visited by India's Uncle, Charlie. Charlie seems a little out there, and begins to form a sketchy relationship with India that suggests Uncle Charlie may desire more than family bonding.
To elaborate any more would spoil the film, but needless to say it's an interesting premise. The story unfolds very slowly, with few dramatic developments until the second half of the film, which contains much more wizz-bang than the somber and meticulously paced beginning. This isn't a bad thing, largely because the characters are so fascinating from the get-go that accompanying them while they go about their day to day lives is a pleasure. Even when the movie seems to be resting on its laurels early on, the performances are great all around (in particular Wasikowska's performance as distant and on-edge India). Except for a few odd holes, the script stays strong throughout, providing plenty of great dialogue courtesy of Wentworth Miller (you read that right,the dude from Resident Evil: Afterlife. Who saw that coming?).
Of course, the strongest link in the chain is Chan-wook Park. From the opening scene of fragmented shots with computer generated transitions that occur throughout the movie, his mark is clearly laid on the film. Stoker never has an ugly moment, and each shot oozes with that distinctive Chan-wook flair. My personal favorite is an early scene in a basement involving a swinging light fixture (think Once upon a time in the West). The only thing that feels absent compared to CWP's other efforts is a slew of neasea-indusing scenes whose only purpose is to shock the audience. Although Stoker has a few jarring moments (think showers), for the most part its very restrained compared to Chan-wook's other works. This is fine up until the last act, when the nature of the story demanded for a more powerful and shocking denouement then what was given. So despite not quite sticking the landing, Stoker is effectively creepy, well acted, and an enjoyable beginning to what I hope will be a long English language career for Chan-wook Park.
Stylish, artistic, beautiful, controversial and feeling much more like a movie from his native South Korea; Chan-wook Park is bang on form. All that's changed is the actors are American and speak in the English language, and the location of course. I sincerely hope Hollywood takes note that this is how to do it right! Don't interfere with the artist and corrupt and americanise their vision. However, I have heard there was a 20 minute enforced cut made to the film by an editor for the studio. Here's what the Director has to say about it:
"It's just such a different animal from what I've experienced in Korea," he says, "but it's just like how you can't really complain about the weather in the States when you're going over to shoot a film. The Searchlight people had good taste, though. There were some differences of opinion, but at least they didn't make any nonsensical remarks."
Chan-wook Park is responsible for such acclaimed movies as 'Oldboy', 'Lady Vengeance' and 'Thirst'. Until now at least, 'Oldboy' was his most famous movie, and an American remake nobody wants is due for release soon. 'Stoker' is admittedly less violent and more subtle than those movies, but only because frequent action isn't suitable for this particular script. It's primarily a character study focusing on the loss of innocence, and I'm sure some less contemplative people hoping for frequent action will be disappointed. When it comes to style and controversy though, this movie delivers and was everything I'd hoped it would be. It's stunning to look at and almost every shot is symbolic. More often than not it's sexual symbolism regarding loss of innocence, and the same goes for the frequent symbolism in the dialogue. Furthermore, there's a wonderful Hitchcock feel to it and clearly pays homage to 'Shadow Of A doubt' with a character called Uncle Charlie.
The writer is Wentworth Miller, an actor, and this being his first screenplay makes it all the more impressive. Erin Cressida Wilson (Secretary, Chloe) is credited as contributing writer. Based on the quality of this movie, Wentworth Miller needs to get writing some more screenplays.
I also felt the subject matter was a perfect match for Director Chan-wook Park, who's no stranger to controversial themes. It's a really rather pervy film, even if done subtly, artistically, and almost entirely non-explicitly. However, there's one particular scene I found gloriously wrong and solidified my opinion that the filmmakers had at least been respected and the goal of the studio wasn't to tame and americanise the Director. However, it will be interesting if a Director's cut comes out, or at least deleted scenes to see what cuts were made and if they were a good move making it less baggy or toning it down. The important thing as of now is that the result is a great movie. Movie critic Chris Tookey, for The Daily Mail, was disgusted by the film, so it can't be that toned down. A one star review from this man almost guarantees greatness.
The title and characters' surname 'Stoker' has obvious vampiric connotations, so some will be wondering if it's a vampire movie. Well it is and it isn't There are no fangs or capes or turning into bats, but the name 'Stoker' is certainly no coincidence. Vampire mythology, literature and movies are loaded with symbolism of the sexual predator seducing the innocent. Furthermore, one of the definitions of the word 'vampire' is non-literal, simply meaning a person who preys on others. Vampires are also natural hunters and killers and there's a nature verses nurture aspect. These themes are essentially what the movie is about.
Nicole Kidman plays mother 'Evelyn Stoker', and Matthew Goode plays charismatic, creepy Uncle 'Charles Stoker', but there's simply no argument as to who steals the limelight and it's Mia Wasikowska (Alice In Wonderland, Jane Eyre), as 18 year old 'India Stoker'. The actress is 23 but easily passes for an 18 year old. Her character is the main focus of the film and I feel she was perfectly cast for the role. She's old enough to be sexy, yet young enough looking so you feel a little conflicted about thinking so, and, despite her innocent appearance, has a facial quality that you can believe hides a personality more sinister. The character she plays is deeply intriguing and her acting as a dark, sexually ripe, moody introvert was magnetic and convincing. If it happened to be awards season, I'd say she was in with a chance of some nominations, but then when does subtle acting as a quiet introvert ever get nominations?
It may only be the beginning of March, and there's been a lot of great movies so far in 2013, but I think 'Stoker' is the best film of the year at this point. It's not only the exception to the rule that Asian Director's first English language features are watered down missteps, but it's a film I thoroughly enjoyed and left the cinema genuinely excited about. You know that feeling when you find a movie that you really connect with and you can't wait to tell everyone about it? It's one of the best feelings in the world. Produced by Ridley and Tony Scott, 'Stoker' is an example of Hollywood getting it absolutely right, so please go and support it.
"Stoker" obliges you to stay fully conscious all the time to keep up with the symbolisms and invites you to use your imagination. The director wants a participating audience, is ambiguous on purpose, loves to make us wonder and speculate just as much as he loves leaving us room for interpretation when the film ends. Deliberate loose ends and cut scenes, designed to confuse the viewer and cause uncertainty.
Much like with his all-time classic, puzzling masterpiece "Oldboy", Park wants to disturb you. An exciting, twisted story, very powerful scenes, even scenes that many people won't be able to tolerate. A compelling story about dark nature and sickness, about liberating yourself and becoming aware of your desires. Violence is portrayed with scenes focused on beauty, and sexuality is portrayed dark and repressed.
I liked the script by Wentworth Miller (although I don't think the script gets full credit for the suspense created here), and I found Mia Wasikowska's performance superb.
This film is dark and might make you feel disgusted or uncomfortable. But for me, the beauty of the scenes, the emotions it provokes and how it climaxes, made me think of it as a piece of music.
In Stoker, Park pays homage to the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock. Those who have seen Hitchcock's 1943 thriller Shadow of a Doubt wouldn't find it hard to draw parallels. Park limns a colorful canvas like only he can and his characters tread it like spirits caught in a limbo. While the characters are highly emotional, their strangely selfish actions make it difficult for the viewers to sympathize with them. Chung-hoon Chung's alluring cinematography gives the movie a hypnotic feel. The acting of movie's three lead characters viz. Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, and Matthew Goode is quite brilliant and in that order.
Overall, Stoker is an intriguing work of cinema that despite managing to stoke the fire of curiosity may still leave any keen-eyed, intelligent viewer high and dry. Those accustomed to watching the quintessential Hollywood product are likely to find Stoker very strange and deeply disturbing. But, if you are looking for something different to break your monotonous daily routine then Stoker will surely not disappoint you. 8/10
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The story is just simple but it is told very differently. Thrillers usually slowly builds the tension of the plot until it gets to the point that everything what's happening is not right. Here, it already shows the oddness of their lives. The only thing it does now is to explore what's happening to the characters and what they are going to do. The plot isn't really that complex but it's all rather provocative. It embraces the strangeness that is manipulated from the two Stokers. It's not ought to be scary or anything. It's all about taking the ride on their horrifying acts. These scenes are, without a doubt, bizarre and somehow disturbing.
The film has a set of amazing talents. Mia Wasikowska has always been lovely and talented. She gives a sense of weirdness inside of her innocence which is perfect to the character. Nicole Kidman makes a great desperate mother. Matthew Goode adds some creepy mannerism to the psychotic Uncle Charlie. It's easy to get infatuated by his deceiving charms. The violence is a bit tamed for a Chan-wook Park film, but here, he aims more at the fortitude. He fills them with an impressively energetic style which helps executing its eerie. The gorgeous cinematography captures the melancholia of their world. Everything is just stunning.
The story isn't really that subtle or original but Stoker is a stylishly made film that will give you a quite different experience. Instead of jump scares or whatever tricks that typical thrillers use, the film rather tests the anxiety of the audience in these strange haunting exteriors. The film is not trying to be innovative but the reason why it's interesting is because of its intense use of filmmaking styles. It leaves the clichéd modern thriller plot points for a while and it simply tells the story by exploring these people's little twisted lives. Overall, it's visually captivating despite of the horror underneath the surfaces and that what makes the film so appealing.
The movie is well shot, well acted, yet utterly uninteresting. The story does not build up in any straight direction, you never know what is real and what is not and there is just so much confusion in the storytelling that I never really knew where I was standing. I began to wonder if there would be some grand twist in the end, and was waiting for it through one pointless scene after the other, just to realize the ending could be seen a mile away and all that confusing storytelling really amounts to absolutely nothing.
I would recommend this movie only to people who can sit through two hours of something they are not exactly sure whether it is what you are watching. Just terrible in my opinion. The entirety of the story could be summed up in 30 minutes and it would make for a wonderful short movie. But as it is - it is tedious and unrewarding.