After India's father dies, her Uncle Charlie, whom she never knew existed, comes to live with her and her unstable mother. She comes to suspect this mysterious, charming man has ulterior motives and becomes increasingly infatuated with him.
India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska) was not prepared to lose her father and best friend Richard (Dermot Mulroney) in a tragic auto accident. The solitude of her woodsy family estate, the peace of her tranquil town, and the unspoken somberness of her home life are suddenly upended by not only this mysterious accident, but by the sudden arrival of her Uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode), who she never knew existed. When Charlie moves in with her and her emotionally unstable mother Evie (Nicole Kidman), India thinks the void left by her father's death is finally being filled by his closest bloodline. Soon after his arrival, India comes to suspect that this mysterious, charming man has ulterior motives. Yet instead of feeling outrage or horror, this friendless young woman becomes increasingly infatuated with him.Written by
Fox Searchlight Pictures
At their first meeting to discuss her role in this film, director Chan-wook Park gave Mia Wasikowska a copy of John Everett Millais's 1851 picture The Bridesmaid: a lurid triangle of golden curls gushing from her face, dark eyes upturned with loaded expectation. He also gave her a stone statue of a jaguar: "to signify the predator motif he wanted to bring to the film". See more »
(at around 57 mins) When India is pressing the number of Auntie Gin on her cellphone, she doesn't press the call button, but the end call button. In the next shot, her cellphone displays clock, not the dialing number. See more »
My ears hear what others cannot hear; small faraway things people cannot normally see are visible to me. These senses are the fruits of a lifetime of longing, longing to be rescued, to be completed. Just as the skirt needs the wind to billow, I'm not formed by things that are of myself alone. I wear my father's belt tied around my mother's blouse, and shoes which are from my uncle. This is me. Just as a flower does not choose its color, we are not responsible for what we have come ...
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The credits scroll from top to bottom of the screen, rather than bottom to top, like in most scrolling end credits. See more »
Stoker: everything you love about Park-Chan Wook movies, just dialed down a couple notches
As a fan of Chan-Wook Park's Korean films, particular his gross twist on a vampire story in 2009's Thirst, I was incredibly excited to see his first English language offering. Stoker, the first film made stateside by CWP, defiantly doesn't disappoint. This is largely due to the director staying with what he knows, telling a story that has all the dark hallmarks from his Korean works. However, Stoker is also less extreme then one would expect from Chan-Wook Park, as many moments of violence and depravity that could have been much more over the top are toned down.
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.
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