Stoker (2013)

Stoker
Directed by Chan-Wook Park
Written by Wentworth Miller
(number 479)

I’ve never seen a Chan-Wook Park movie before but the style is very familiar somehow. The hyper realism, the gorgeous colours, the intense gaze on small every day things. The story is simple enough in premise, India’s father dies and an uncle she didn’t know existed moves in following the funeral.

Although clearly set now the film has a very old fashioned styling. Nicole Kidman is classically beautiful in the austere, pinned down clothing that costume designers are so fond of putting her in. It makes it quite shocking when her hair is out and down, a sudden softness.

India is played by Mia Wasikowska who I have seen before as Alice in Tim Burton’s movie. She reminds me of Saorise Ronan – the same pale, serious face, big eyes and vulnerable mouth. Both of these actors are also incredibly compelling to watch, relateable even though they seem so cold.

The movie follows a slow start (Blair thought it was much too slow) with a disturbing and strange turn of events. The movie seems to be a mix of Lolita, Hamlet and The Talented Mr Ripley… I found it beautiful but deeply disturbing – the family history and the madness of Charlie. The indication that India’s father taught her to hunt as a way to protect her from something that he dreaded might happen in the future.

I found this movie more disturbing than Saw and Antichrist. Maybe I shouldn’t have watched it on a day I woke up from creepy nightmares.

There is a familiar and unsurprising meshing of love, sex and death in regards to the psyche of a girl becoming a woman. I feel like it was done best in Ginger Snaps, this movie is still too much about the men. Byzantium did it well too. Maybe if they had made Evie’s actions less predictable and reactive it could have saved this film – but as it is Charlie is the driving force for everything which makes him the motivator for any change in India.

Does it make me love the people?
It’s tricky. You sort of love India, but you’re a bit afraid of her as well. Charlie is a fascinating character, compelling and charismatic but so frightening as well.

Bechdel test: Yes, and very early on. India talks to her grandmother about the devilled eggs and her birthday present. There is also a scene with India and her mother, Evie, in Evie’s bedroom where they talk about their relationship.

Best line:
“We don’t need to be friends, we’re family.”

State of Mind: Hold me… No but I wanted it to have a different ending.

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