Stoker March 21, 2013Posted by Alichat in Life, Movies.
Tags: dermot mulroney, Jacki Weaver, Matthew Goode, Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, Park Chan-wook, Stoker, Wentworth Miller
Monday night, I hit one of our locally owned theatres, the funky, carpet-walled The Colony, to see Stoker. I hadn’t heard much about this movie because I’ve been trying to put a moratorium on reading all I can about a movie before I see it. A test to see if it affects my viewing of a film since I am pretty analytical. So all I knew is that this is a slightly creepy independent film, starring Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode, Jacki Weaver, and Nicole Kidman, and written by Wentworth Miller (yes, the actor from Prison Break.) By the end of the film, I had no idea what I would say in this review.
Stoker is a quiet, creepy, disturbing film. India (Wasikowska,) is the weird, saddle shoe wearing teenage daughter of Richard and Evie Stoker (Dermot Mulroney and Kidman). Her father, whom she’s closest with, has died in a car accident on her 18th birthday, upending the quiet life she had on the big family estate in the small, peaceful town. Uncle Charlie (Goode who stepped in to replace Colin Firth) appears at the funeral reception, and India, having no idea he existed, is both intrigued and wary of him. Her father said very little about him to anyone, so many in the town are taken with this charming guest. India’s trepidation is understandable since Charlie stalks her during the reception, popping up around corners, and pacing her through the house as she darts around the outside to avoid him. His expression a look of playfulness and intensity. He’s infatuated with her, and apparently we, the audience, are the only ones who notice. Not surprising, since things are not normal in the Stoker house. To the outside world, Evie attributes their icy relationship to India’s quirky personality, and the adoration of her father. However, Evie is unstable and self-involved, a woman who finds being a mother a very tiring, inconvenient part of her life. So it’s not odd that she doesn’t seem worried, or for that matter seem to care, when close people are suddenly missing. As the movie pulls us through one unsettling moment after the other, India becomes less wary and more infatuated with Uncle Charlie, finding that they are connected in more ways than she ever knew.
When the movie ended, I turned to my friend Abby and asked her thoughts. “It was fucked up, and I liked it!” Not the reply I was expecting since I usually like the more twisted and disturbing films. But I was conflicted when the movie was over. As the first English language film from South Korean director, Park Chan-wook, artistically the movie is stylistic and compelling. Park created beautiful moments which are equally melancholy and bizarre. The piano scene was layered and provocative, yet unsettling and fascinating at the same time. There were some storytelling points that bothered me, (Speak up Aunt Gwen!!) and contributed to my conflict at the end of the film. Plus, it’s not a stretch to say the trailer (below) gives too much away, and the movie begins with Uncle Charlie being incredibly creepy from the moment he appears on-screen. I think the movie would be better served with a less revealing trailer, and a more charming Uncle Charlie at the beginning. Also, while the nature of this film gives an expectation of moments of unnerving silence, I say the movie was quiet mostly because it was hard to hear the dialogue. I’m not sure if that was due to a volume issue with the theatre or if the dialogue was intentionally recorded this way. I’m leaning toward the latter. The dialogue was the only part that was difficult to hear, and it wasn’t consistent, which is why I think it was an intentional aspect of the film. I think it was meant to give an uneasiness to the scenes, and if there hadn’t been two idiot talkers behind me, I probably wouldn’t have minded so much. The idiots left the movie after 20 minutes, which elicited an uncharacteristically loud exclamation of “Thank GOD!” from me as they were shuffling out.
Even though I was conflicted when the movie was over, the more I’ve thought about it, the more I have to agree with Abby. It’s fucked up, and I liked it!