Korean director Chan-Wook Park recently admitted that his choice to become a filmmaker came after seeing Alfred Hitchcock’s classic mystery romance thriller Vertigo (1958). So naturally the legendary director’s influence is quite evident in Park’s debut English language film, the psycho-sexual thriller Stoker. Undoubtedly one of the most visually stunning films of the year, it stars Australian Academy Award winning darling Nicole Kidman.
Written by actor Wentworth Miller (who played a leading role in TV’s Prison Break), we are introduced to the Stoker family: the patriarch, Richard Stoker (Dermott Mulroney), dies in a tragic but mysterious car accident. His daughter India (Mia Wasikowska) is not coping with the loss of her ‘best friend’ as she grieves with her emotionally unstable mother Evelyn (Nicole Kidman).
At Richard’s funeral, we meet his sister Gwendolyn, played by another Australian legendary actress Jacki Weaver. Then India meets Richard’s brother Charlie, (Matthew Goode), the Uncle she never knew she had. Refined and cultured, Charlie fascinates his surly niece and his brother’s coquettish widow with tales of European travel adventures however something just doesn’t feel right to India. Matthew Goode plays the part of the elusive Uncle Charlie perfectly. You immediately feel all is not well with his sly smile and his cold eyes.
When people start to disappear, things get really odd and by the end of the film, the oddities are so great that they subtract from the movie.
Despite this, the cinematography, thanks to Park’s regular Cinematographer Chung Chung-hoon, is stunning, as is the art and costumes. The three lead actors are flawless, however the story is not one that will really entice many movie goers.
Reviewed by Kirstey Whicker
Rating out of 10: 2.5