Title – Stoker (2013)
Director – Chan Wook-Park (Oldboy)
Cast – Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode, Nicole Kidman, Jacki Weaver, Dermot Mulroney
Plot – Following the death of her father Richard (Mulroney) India Stoker (Wasikowska) is left to live in the family’s country based mansion with her distant mother Evelyn (Kidman) and until recently unknown brother of Richard, Charlie (Goode). As Charlie spends more time around India and Evelyn it’s clear she doesn’t entirely trust her new uncle.
“India. Come meet your Uncle Charlie.”
Review by Eddie on 22/08/2013
For his English language debut director Chan Wook-Park could not have got more prestige and brand name people behind his project. Adapted from Prison Break star Wentworth Miller’s blacklisted script, Stoker also features producers Ridley Scott and brother Tony (in his last producing credit before his untimely death) plus a cast to die for. That Stoker then is such a cold distance inducing mis-fire is quite a wonderment.
Stoker is an impressively shot and constructed film, even if nothing much in the actual picture feels plausible or realistic. A feature of Wook-Park is his ability to imbue his films with a real stark beauty and a feeling that every angle of the film is shot by plan not by chance. From the opening scene of Stoker it feels like we the audience are on for an Oldboy like trip, a trip to a film that has not been seen before. While this aspect is true there is not an ounce of Oldboy’s heart or Sympathy for Lady Vengeance’s memorability. This is a shame as previously mentioned due to the prestige involved in the picture which extends to the cast assembled.
Australian up and comer Mia Wasikowska (pretty much the anti-Alice here) gets the role of lonely and emotionally cold India Stoker. It’s a tough role for Wasikowska but she does an ample job of the Donnie Darko like central figure. Nicole Kidman and Jacki Weaver complete the trio of Australian women in the cast but their respective characters don’t really register a bleep on the radar, that is left to Matthew Goode.
Well known for his role as Ozymandias in Watchmen and so fantastic in Jonathan Teplitzky’s modern day Australian classic Burning Man (seriously track this film down now) Goode is the stand out reason to watch Stoker. His character of Charlie Stoker is a beguiling turn. Every scene Goode is in you are unsure whether to loathe or like him, a rare feat for an actor to be both charming and unsavoury in equal measure. Charlies menacing present in the film gives insight into just how creepy and perhaps thrilling Stoker could have been if only it allowed you more resonance with the characters.
Regardless of my thoughts on Stoker it will be a film that splits the middle in regards to audience reaction. The viewer will either decide it’s a modern day classic, a somewhat Hitchcockian potboiler or a complete let down on a premise that offered so much and a production lined with an almost undefeatable team at its disposable. I am in the later group, but don’t let that stop you from perhaps discovering your new favourite oddity.
2 leather belts out of 5