Saturday, 31 August 2013

Stoker (2013) - ★★★★

Director: Park Chan-Wook
Writer: Wentworth Miller
Stars: Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode, Nicole Kidman, Jackie Weaver, Dermot Mulroney, Phyllis Somerville

Have you ever seen Alfred Hitchcock's classic, 'Shadow of a Doubt?' Well, Stoker is like that, except our female protagonist is just as crazy as Uncle Charlie. It's a beautifully made, disturbing, and extremely intriguing film. There are plenty of masterful elements to Stoker, especially in the cinematography. I found all of the performances to be really effective, particularly Mia Wasikowska as India. While it may not be perfect, it's one of the most fiendishly entertaining films of 2013.

India (Mia Wasikowska) is a quirky, quiet, independent young woman who has the ability to hear faint sounds from very far away (such as crickets in a far-off field, or whispers from behind closed doors). After her father dies, her Uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode), who she never knew existed, comes to live with her and her unstable mother (Nicole Kidman). She comes to suspect that there is much more to her uncle than once thought.

This might sound a little messed up, but in Shadow of a Doubt, starring Teresa Wright and Joseph Cotton, I felt a lot of sexual chemistry between the two. Even though Wright played the niece of Cotton, I just couldn't help but feel a spark between them. Stoker takes a completely different approach to Shadow of a Doubt, making it more modern, darker, and much more graphic. It adds fuel to the spark between the Uncle and his niece, thus igniting quite an obvious flame between the two. The difference between Shadow of a Doubt and Stoker is that I cared a lot more about what happened in Hitchcock's classic, as opposed to Park Chan-Wook's great film.

Wasikowska never fails to impress me. This is one of her best performances.
What makes Stoker stand out as a brilliant film in its own right would have to be its completely unique, stunning style. The editing and cinematography is a joy to the senses. Right down to the simplest scenes, everything has a sense of beauty and style to it. For such a dark, simple story, it's such a vivacious and gorgeous film. There are a few sequences I really appreciated, my favourite coming at both the beginning and the end of the film.

Mia Wasikowska is one of the best actresses there is today. She's such a diverse talent, I could see her going as far as Meryl Streep. Even though she has such a thick Australian accent in real life, she pulls off a pitch perfect American accent in Stoker. That's something that Nicole Kidman is yet to master, however, Kidman's performance was stunning. There's no other word for it, but stunning. In fact, there were three Aussie actresses who tried a hand at the American accent. Jacki Weaver did a good job, Kidman did great, and Wasikowska did it perfectly. I think Kidman's performance is by far the most memorable, particularly her monologue where she says "I want to see the world crush you." BUT, Wasikowska gave an all round perfect performance. Not an expression out of place, nor a word mispoken... she became the character of India and sucked me into her strange story. Matthew Goode gave a spot on performance too, but I feel they could have developed Uncle Charlie a bit better by injecting more emotion into his personality (but hey, that's just my opinion).

One of Nicole Kidman's best performances.
I think Stoker could be a big surprise at the 2014 Academy Awards. It's worthy of a nomination in the Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Actress categories in my opinion. I also think it deserves recognition for its fantastic cinematography and unique visual style. Stoker is a truly fantastic film, but for some reason, it doesn't quite fall into the 'masterpiece' ballpark. I feel it's slightly too unbelievable, and a tiny bit stale. I was never fully submersed in the story, which is a big no-no. But in the end, I enjoyed Stoker immensely... it really is a terrific film.


  1. I could see this being nominated for Cinematography and possibly score, but am not too sure it would get any acting ones. Would love that it did, because the cast here was really good

    1. I think Kidman at least deserves a nomination. I'll have to wait and see if her performance holds up against other Supporting Performances, but it's definitely worthy.