Stoker (2013) Directed by Chan-wook Park. With Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode and Nicole Kidman.
Brutality and beauty are very often joined at the hip, which is exactly the case in South Korean director, Chan-wook Park’s first English language film, Stoker. After the tragic death of her father, India (Mia Wasikowska) and her unstable mother (Nicole Kidman) are joined at their beautiful country home by India’s uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode), a mysterious but personable man.
Chan-wook Park and his director of photography, Chung-hoon Chung, achieve a striking sense of otherworldly unevenness with a masterful and artistic look and tone, that remains focused to keep character and story, front and centre. Early on, it’s explained that India has a keen sense of hearing, which Park employs to quite brilliant effect by having us, the viewers, hear the film through her ears. It creates moments of subtle genius, borderline hypnotic to experience, adding a layer of depth to the characters and surroundings.
The three central performances are magnificent, gradually revealing themselves throughout the course of the film, to sometimes shocking effect. Increasingly erotically charged, amid a developing sense of madness, there’s always an expensive feel of taste and class, with sometimes savage, but beautiful observations on parenting and a sense of one’s own awareness.
If alive today, its not hard to imagine that Stoker is the sort of film that Alfred Hitchcock would have made. It’s bubbling with visual and aural tricks that suggest and entice the viewer. Its full of ideas, some of which are ambiguous enough to fuel debate well beyond the credits. A masterpiece. 5/5