Review: Stoker – a Thrilling Watch

June 13, 2013 8:00 pm

When one looks at the title, Stoker, it is automatically assumed to be a project related to Bram Stoker, author of Dracula. Although this movie does not have anything to do with vampirism, it does leave its audience similarly unnerved; especially when the tagline is ‘Do not disturb the family.

Australian-Polish actress Mia Wasikowska, fellow Aussie Nicole Kidman and British Matthew Goode all come together in South Korean director Chan-wook Park’s dark and riveting Hitchcock-like presentation, to play multi-dimensional characters in a somewhat twisted family.

STK-9478-1.NEFWasikowska plays India Stoker, an alienated 17-year-old whose father, Richard, (Dermot Mulroney) dies tragically in a car accident. Her highly unstable and striking mother, Evelyn (Kidman), immediately finds herself in a predicament, as she and her solitary daughter were never close. India, who always had a stronger connection with her father, is unable to accept the unexpected loss and further withdraws into her own realm, until she and her mother meet Charles Stoker (Goode). Charles, from the start, seems to be a magnetic and generous man, offering to take on some of Evelyn’s hardships as his own while they grieve. However, what comes as a shock to both Evelyn and India is that Richard had never once mentioned having a brother. As the plot progresses, several sinister dimensions to each character are riotously uncovered, as the carnage of perversion is uncovered too.

Park’s direction is unique in that, while there is a whirlpool of emotion in a time of grief and each character goes through their own grieving process, there are simultaneous events, which expose vulnerability or strength. With an astoundingly wide and enviable résumé in film, Park’s reach into Western film has clearly been a successful one, and audiences have agreed after watching Stoker.
Wasikowska, an actress with a bevy of characters to her name, whether innocent yet empowering like Alice in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland or repressed yet soulful title character Jane Eyre, brilliantly exposes the contradictory character of India Stoker. While one is named India, you would expect someone serene yet full-of-life, but Wasikowska beautifully breaks into the persona of someone with a number of dark emotions below the surface.
It goes without saying that Kidman perfectly plays the wife of a lost one, whose ultimate freedom is to live without regret and without fear of anything or anyone. However, her emotional instability is what holds her back from a full recovery.
stoker7Goode, playing the most fascinating character in Stoker, embodies the starkly confident man-of-the-world, but there are moments during which we get a glimpse of someone not quite of this world. Critics have even likened his portrayal to Psycho‘s Norman Bates. Audiences will see this in anything such as his speech or his amble. Goode has quite an extensive experience of playing dark characters such as Adrian Veldt or Ozymandias in Zack Snyder’s Watchmen, which helps us forget that he starred in Chasing Liberty.

Stoker is a movie to be watched within state of total unawareness of your surroundings. But after watching it, you will, funnily enough, become increasingly aware of said surroundings, especially due to the almost intrusive exploration of themes such as death, innocence, lust and coveting.

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