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Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Sean Kelly

My Thoughts on Stoker

Stoker

There seems to be a bit of a trend beginning, involving famed Korean directors making North American films.  A little over a month ago we saw the release of The Last Stand, which was directed by Jee-woon Kim, who was known in Korea for the films The Good, The Bad, and The Weird and I Saw the Devil.  Now we have Stoker, which is the North American debut for Chan-wook Park, who is best known for the The Vengeance Trilogy (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy, and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance), as well as the vampire film Thirst.

The film focuses on India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska), whose father tragically dies on her 18th birthday.  On the same day, India meets her uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode), who mysteriously arrives at her father’s funeral and comes to stay with India and her mother Evelyn (Nicole Kidman).  India slowly begins to realize that, not only is Charlie hiding a dark secret, but that she finds herself excited by the prospect.

Stoker is a film that can be hard to classify.  At some moments, the film is a family drama, while at others it’s almost a horror film.  There are hints throughout the film that there are special skills that the Stoker family possesses, which make them prone to certain actions.  While this trait does not seem to be fully revealed within the plot of the film, it will be interesting to rewatch the film and see all these traits play out.

For the most part, Stoker is a three character film, with Wasikowska, Goode, and Kidman taking up the bulk of the screentime.  There are some secondary characters, including flashbacks to India’s father (played by Dermot Mulroney), however they are all just in the film for a few minutes at a time.  This film can be seen as a bit of a breakout role for Australian actress Wasikowska, who has definitely come a long way, since she first became known to North American audiences on the HBO series In Treatment in 2008, before later appearing in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland.  I hope she follows the lead of Stoker and finds more interesting roles, possibly with a similar dark edge.

On the technical side of things, I really have to compliment Stoker’s use of sound.  There is a scene early on in the film where India is cracking open a hard boiled egg and the sound the breaking shells make just makes you cringe.  It definitely shows how sound can make a normal scene have a bit of a sinister edge.  I also have to say that the way Stoker is edited truly makes the film.  The film repeatedly uses flashbacks of earlier scenes, crosscutting, and other such tricks to help convey what is going on in India’s mind at the moment.  This just gives the film a unique visual style, which helped greatly with my enjoyment of the film.

Overall, it took until the beginning the third month, but Stoker is my first real entry to my list of favourite films of 2013.  I highly recommend checking it out.

10 | LOVED IT  

Sean Kelly

About Sean Kelly -

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described ├╝ber-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).