Film Review: Stoker

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Stoker is a creepy and sexy coming of age film at it’s heart, and for it’s star Mia Wasikowska, while Park Chan-wook proves he can excel in any language.

A coming of age story crossed with the mystery/thriller genre, we follow a high school aged girl, India, whose father dies in a car crash on her birthday. The funeral brings around her father’s long lost brother, Charlie, and India cautiously circumvents him as her mother invites him to stay at the house with the two of them for the time being. Intrigue begins to pop up as house keepers go missing and little seen aunts reappear and India keeps digging deeper into the strangeness that is filling up her life.

I don’t want to spoil the fun, but the film is full of beats and momentum that keeps things engaging from the get go. There is something different about India, supernatural even, but the film leaves that a mystery long past the end credits. There is something odd about some members in the Stoker family and as their history is revealed things become more and more unsettling. The film is a blast and Park’s direction is as superb and playful as you would expect if you’ve seen some of his previous work. His direction is as calculated and precise as one would hope for and he makes a wonderful transition to Hollywood.

I know I am being coy with the plot, but as things unravel you can’t help but get sucked deeper and deeper in. Things get weird and twisted and the film excels at unsettling the viewer through its incredible sound design and numerous creepy visuals, but it is its ability to shock you that will stand out the most. Clint Mansell’s score is apt and superb and I imagine Phillip Glass’s excellent duet for the picture will get plenty of plays throughout my stereo this year. The film is a technical triumph in every category, with the cinematography, editing and production design matching all the superlatives I’ve laid on the rest of the production.

The film’s stars put the film over the top as Mia Wasikowska is wonderful in the lead as India. She is creepy, sexy and powerful, often all at once, and watching her bizarre character work her way through both her social and family life is a blast to watch. The character has a subtle evolution that Wasikowska nails at every turn and it continues to baffle me she isn’t more widely lauded as some of her young female contemporaries. Matching her in creepiness, with a whole bunch of charisma, is Matthew Goode who is excellent per usual. I don’t understand how this guy isn’t in more films as he is great every time out and this film is no exception. There is a charming malice and mystery to him and he gets more and more fun to watch as the film moves along. Nicole Kidman is also quite good in the picture as she grieves in the oddest ways for her dead husband. She plays sex pot and distraught about as good as anyone and she really gets to spread her wings here.

Stoker is one of the best films of this young year as Park Chan-wook has made a fantastic American debut. The cast is superb and there is a craft on display to match it as Park and his team have designed what will be one of the most beautiful pictures of the year. Mia Wasikowska uses the film to continue to show her talents while breaking out from those innocent roles she has been stuck in. The film is full of creepy atmosphere and sexual energy that will put viewers on the edge of their seats; just expect those feelings to get rather confusing throughout.

Stoker is an A

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