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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.
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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Sometimes a movie tries to do a little too much, and Stoker is a great example of such a film. I feel as if I am one of the few who while watching this movie wasn't very impressed by anything it tries to do. It's a story about a girl who grows up shying away from society and all it's norms, and begins to become inspired more or less by her charismatic, yet outwardly creepy uncle, who shows up to comfort her mother after a tragic car accident takes her husbands life, who also happens to be said uncle's brother. He in turn is infatuated with her.
The obvious things about this film that should be creepy are as eerie as can be without gore and disturbing imagery, but what keeps this from being a good watch is more due to the ever widening gap between blockbusters and indie films. These middle of the road films that try to look big budget with modest financing all to often grant themselves a campy and dated vibe, almost having a made for TV type gloss to their finished product, and when this movie in particular chooses to be stylized from time to time it often ends up looking amateur and even cliché. The flow of these stylized moments also lack good pacing as they occur either in quick succession or disappears all together for extended periods only to start showing up in troves again at a later time. It's far more distracting than it could ever been seen as a means to accentuate the film; and it makes things feel less serious and organic.
It's other weakness is in it's decision to favor the less than plausible over sensibility and logic. One would assume for entertainment reasons, yet it's a mystery to me how any entertainment could be found most of the time during this film. Mia's character gives a good hour run just buying into this mans insanity, only to pull a complete 180 in the last fifteen minutes. It's also beyond hard to believe that no one single authoritative figure could pieces together how suspicious it is that her father just happens to die the exact same day that he picks up this mentally ill uncle from an institution he was committed to for something very similar in nature when he was growing up. Don't people have to sign release forms and stuff at those places?
It's almost as if is movie was written without a clear intent or a consistent motive planned throughout, and in the end a jumbled up puzzle of confusion and creepiness prevailed without any solid message. It's clear why everyone's the way they are, yet their resolves, their choices, and even their actions throughout the film feel forced from an illogical world of ridiculousness, as if the only reality that exists is within the perimeters of their house, a highway, and a restaurant type place. When Nicole Kidman, who plays Mia's mother, begins to piece everything together, why would she call the uncle she suspects of foul play into the bedroom upstairs of all places? Again, in terms of logic, it couldn't feel more like a sandbox film.
Maybe if this film was deliberately shot low budget as a showcase of a friendship between the uncle and niece that budded into a unique understanding of one another through not accepting society and people, it would've been a much more interesting movie, or even more so as a period piece during the 1800s or something. But instead, it's a messy blend of style and eerie atmosphere that lacks proper pacing and feels very haphazardly put together. It tries to empathize with it's leads and give reason for their madness, but instead it comes off as relentlessly grim and faithless all too often, as it doesn't give much of a chance to things like hope or even common sense as plausible tools to pull a character through a situation. It paints a picture of the introverted and angst-ridden individual as a kind of 'different' that automatically rejects all basic human reactions to norms and situations, like no one trait could exist without all the rest of an assumed identity or label to be present, inevitably leading to the worst.
Case and point: **Biggest Spoiler** Mia's character ultimately becomes her uncle in the end by taking his life and begins her pursuit of freedom by following in his footsteps, which is all the more evident that he understands this by smiling at her before she offs him. This could've been a unique and creative film moment even if disturbing, but instead the film's aforementioned grim and faithless interpretation of introverts makes this an eye roller rather than an "Oh My God!" moment. Fortunately, you will find some moments of resolve if you stick this one out till the end; where you may go "yes! thank you!", but those moments are short lived, as it's clear they only exist as a way make sure in the end that more people enjoyed their experience watching this than hated it. Color me jaded; I did't buy most of Stoker.
Anyways, just to clarify, the subject matter and the story on a whole had potential to tell decently disturbing tale, and the ideas on display where not the worst, nor where they the ultimate problem. It's depth just suffers serious sense and direction, and it's surface seems like it would've been much more suited for a gritty horror film, or even a lower budgeted blatant indie type art thriller more so than this unfortunate throwback made-for-TV-meets-straight-to-DVD fare it tries to pass off as something much more grandiose in the end.
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.
"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.
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.
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'.
My girlfriend put this movie on, so I had no prior knowledge of this movie. I kept on thinking throughout the movie that there is some supernatural twist, some mystical twist, something hidden; boy was I wrong. To summarize this piece of garbage: they're all nuts.
The mother is such a useless character that has temper tantrums and does nothing all day. The brother's real character is that of a child. The main character is shallow and shows no emotion. I can't relate to any of these characters. The moral of the story, if there is one, is a grim one at best.
This horrendous movie really upset me. The acting was okay for the characters they were playing, the cinematography kept me in suspense. However, I couldn't relate to anyone. Nearly every character was out to get her, as though she was always the victim. It seems as if there is a hidden secret behind her motives and mysterious past, yet, when it comes down to it there is nothing; only a sour taste for the viewer when this disaster ends.
Stoker only shows how how human beings can murder, and how easy they can get away with it. At least make the bad guy funny, or give them a reason to do what they do.
If you hate humanity in some way, you love this movie.
The look and feel of Stoker is impressive. The atmosphere is well sustained throughout. If I had a criticism it would simply be that the story ultimately isn't all that original and there aren't really a lot of surprises. What it does do though is to take a fairly standard psychological thriller story and make it interesting by way of cinematic techniques. It isn't a movie that is exactly going to break the mould but it is pretty accomplished nevertheless and is a pretty good first English language feature from its director.
Rather than being suspenseful, the film turned out to be a patchwork of silly acting, awkward scripting, listless pacing and an incomprehensible choice of narrative structure that is simply unsuited for this kind of film. Someone ought to revisit and study the classics and until such time, apply for a job in the food service industry.
It is obvious from the get-go that the girl and her uncle are psychos, so why limp around aimlessly for two hours getting a point across that couldn't have been made more clear already 10 minutes into the film?
Is having a plot too much to ask these days?
My husband was laughing at how bad it was, nothing made sense, even the end left me feeling as if I just wasted 2 hours of my life. Nicole Kidman plays an idiot, as she going off on her diatribe of why she had kids, I was yawning, and I noticed the guy a row away was sleeping. Dialogue between characters was weak, Uncle Charlie looked wide eyed and crazy the whole time, surprise, he just came out of a loony bin and has this weird fixation on his niece (which never makes sense at all).
Good luck if you want to see it, I recommend highly you do not, we went as we saw it had 7.6 on IMDb, we were upset we trusted this rating system. Next time I might try Rotten Tomatoes.
I know it was 25 minutes because I kept checking how long the movie had been going because nothing had happened until then. I prayed something would.
Anyway, due to my emotional investment and over inflated ego, I thought with actors like this, and a director like that, I couldn't be wrong and it would get better.
Like all of my prayers, this one went unanswered. I grabbed a Kleenex and blew my nose. I grabbed another to wipe the tears from my face, thinking I must be a really bad person for God not to have answered this one too, for it was my most sincere by far! So, here I sit, an empty box of tissues by my side, another hour and a half of my life wasted, and just praying again for better judgment.
It gets a 2 for its style and cinematography, but that doesn't overshadow the fact that the story sucked.
Very slow, very predictable, no climax, no point, no nothing. This movie simply is a living proof that IMDb ratings are paid by the producers themselves in order to sell the movie. No other explanation can I give to the 7.1 rating at the time of this review. If you don't believe me please find some spare time (but don't take if from anything thing even slightly important...just find some dead time) and watch it. After that please leave a rating here and I am sure the ratings (if not manipulated) will drop immediately.
I know movies are like the food we eat and based on taste, but I am sure that there is no one to taste this movie up to a 7star rating.
Bottom line, waste of time.
The script itself could be rewritten with more depth and attention to the emotional wealth and strange sway of the characters, for all of them are skilled enough to operate powerfully under the shroud of mystery director Park Chan-Wook erects so flawlessly, yet the film could be much improved in tragic and horrifying value through a more tailored script.
Editing must also be noted, for Chan-Wook's is very engaging in that it utilizes the temporal frequency to link certain events, building upon India's character and the internal struggles of those who surround her, as well as the realization of her uncanny ability to cope with the revelations that come about and fit so frighteningly together.
The audience comes to realize that some mysteries are exclusive only to those who are bound to travel the same blood trail that links generations in infinite conclusion and everlasting despair and a terrible longing and love can be as exclusive in it's own forbidden and lonely way.
The soundtrack is pleasantly surprising and fitting, with a piece from Clint Mansell (Black Swan, Requiem for a Dream) and the debut of Emily Wells's "Becomes the Color", which serves to chart India's multifaceted transformation. I strongly recommend this film and highly praise actors Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, Matthew Goode, and Dermot Mulroney, who all contribute to the initial and lasting allure.
It's properly amazing someone has been able to do so little with so much talent - Mia, Nicole and Jackie are all absolutely top notch, and Mathew Goode was excellent in the most recent Brideshead Revisited adaption. They are all capable of so much better, more engaging work.
The audience certainly doesn't learn anything about humanity, nor is it fantastical enough or sufficiently suspenseful to be in any way entertaining. Run, don't walk, away from this really bad piece of cinema.
Not worth the energy I spent pushing the go button on my Roku remote to get the film rolling, let alone the $6 I paid Amazon to stream it.
To begin with, the script written by PRISON BREAK's Wenworth Miller is obvious, clunky and weak. The dialog is stilted and stagy.
The film thinks it's thought provoking and daring, but we've seen it all done before and much better. The only reason these actors could have done this film is because of the usually exciting director - who clearly let his actors down this time. Maybe something was lost in translation...
This is a thriller done lite, boring and not in the least bit thrilling. I waited and waited for it to take off and it never did.
If this were a directorial debut, I might have thought that this director has a lot of potential given a better script.
Don't bother. Only loyalists could give this film a good review.
The moment the movie starts, you instantly notice the mysterious atmosphere the director tries to pass on to the viewers. He did a good job, and I'd give this title a better review if it wasn't for the fact that this movie was waaaaayyyyy too slow to progress in storyline.
Okay I know this is a drama (and somehow they categorize this as 'thriller'), but that doesn't mean they had to make it this dull. I watched this with 3 other people, and every one of them suggested at some point to just stop watching this movie and start another one.
The 3 out of 10 I give is for the somewhat satisfying storyline. With a story like this, they could've done a better job. Instead, they made a movie that's less exciting than watching a snail cross the road.
While the shots and frames are beautiful in Stoker, the movie on the whole and characters lack soul. It appears that the director wanted to make something very abstract without delving into much depth. The characters open mysteriously which makes you wonder about who they are, but very soon they all become too cartoonish.
The story of Stoker is wafer-thin and the director makes no bones about it. The director desperately tries to impress with his serene shots, refreshing soundtrack and shock-value but he remains desperate till the very end. The movie fails on both arty and entertainment values. There are way too many loopholes as well and the by time the movie credits roll, you're thankful that it's over.
Make no mistake, this is nowhere near the director's best. The most disappointing aspect of it all is not the movie, it's that a great director gets a chance in Hollywood to showcase his talents and he fluffs it big time.