South Korean director Park Chan-wook's filmography is peppered with immaculate framing. His latest (and English language debut) is Stoker, a sumptuous, dark movie about a wealthy but dysfunctional family, as well as the unusual awakening of a young girl. When father Richard (Dermot Mulroney) dies, the large rift between mother Evelyn (Nicole Kidman) and daughter India (Mia Wasikowska) grows wider. Instead of becoming a film about women and spite, the two are distracted by Charlie (Matthew Goode), Richard’s long adrift brother who capably inserts himself into the fucked up family dynamics.
While Charlie is seemingly there to put the moves on Evelyn, it’s his relationship with India that makes for the more interesting story. On paper, India and Charlie are little alike. She’s sullen and withdrawn, with great hearing and a weird attitude, while he seems suave, socially capable and engaging. Unforeseeably, the young girl and her youngish uncle are drawn together in a plot that’s as dark and moody as the atmosphere of the flick itself.
Stoker’s vision is often better than its script, with hairbrushes morphing into lush fields via quick cut-tos and plenty of slow-moving, nature based shots. The stylized vision is at its best in a few flashbacks, when India and her father spend time hunting together in the woods and when Charlie and Richard hang out as children. As a whole, the film itself is at its best in the quieter, emotionally distant moments of longing and pain.
Stoker isn’t the type of movie everyone is going to love. It’s not the type of movie that plays to even a decently wide audience, but the spooks and style are the type of things that will resonate with the right viewers for quite some time.
You can order Stoker over at Amazon.
Best Special Feature: Fox Searchlight has put together a rather nice set for a film made on a small $12 million budget that didn’t fully make its money back. Even the packaging for the Blu-ray set is eerily beautiful and also comes with the added bonus of a digital copy. My favorite extras were a set of behind-the-scenes segments that look at everything from the creation of a promotional posters and artwork for the film to the director’s experience with his actors on set. Like the movie, the bonus features are carefully crafted and interesting. If you nab a copy of the film, give the bonus content a shot.
Other Special Features:
“Stoker: A Filmmaker’s Journey”
Photography by Mary Ellen Mark
London Theatre Design
Red Carpet Premiere
Theatrical Trailer and TV Spots