Monday, 12 August 2013
Master South Korean stylist and provocateur Park Chan-wook’s first English language work, Stoker, is a visually spellbinding, technically rapturous and gleefully macabre, albeit an emotionally distancing, film. Filled with an exceptional eye for detail and a deceptively serene and somber veneer covering a rather grotesque core, this is a classic example of the phrase ‘style over substance’. India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska), an asocial teenager who finds it difficult to form bonds with the people around her, but highly receptive to the sight and sound around her, loses the only person she was close to, viz. her father, on her 18th birthday. Immediately after her eerily dashing and charming uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode), who she has never met before, comes over to stay at their sprawling manor house, and immediately catches the attention of her self-absorbed but still gorgeous mother (Nicole Kidman), who she isn’t particularly close to. And that forms the starting point of a chain of dark, morbid and violent events that proves to be, literally, deathly, for the people around her, but also brings the intensely introverted and alienated girl closer to who she essentially is; the final scene, where she finally flowers, so to speak, had the wily Park at his grisly best. However, despite its visual and stylistic flourishes, it felt tad shallow, too polished for its own good and self-consciously deliberate in its attempts at surprising the audience. Nonetheless, the cold and sinister atmosphere and Park’s innate grasp of the medium, along with the palpable sexual undercurrents and the frosty mother-daughter relationship, made this a viscerally engaging watch.
Director: Park Chan-Wook
Genre: Thriller/Psychological Thriller/Mystery