RobynNesbitt's Rating of Stoker

Robyn's Review of Stoker

3 years ago via Flixster
Stoker

Stoker(2013)

"Stoker"-Park Chan-wook's latest is a seductive slice of suspense, with an unexpectedly supernatural bravura. It's not understated to say moviegoers' were excited when director Park Chan-wook, director of "Oldboy" (2003) and "Lady Vengeance" (2005), announced he was making his first English language feature film. Chan-wook's best known on these shores for his visceral and character-driven Vengeance Trilogy. Unfortunately and simply put, we don't get what we had hoped for, or what could have been.

India (Mia Wasikowska) is an emotionally distant 18-year-old living with her mother (Nicole Kidman) in a sprawling mansion somewhere in the Deep South, and mourning the recent death of her father in a car accident. India was not prepared to lose her father and best friend Richard (Dermot Mulroney) in a tragic auto accident. The solitude of her woodsy family estate, the peace of her tranquil town, and the unspoken somberness of her home life are suddenly upended by not only this mysterious accident, but by the sudden arrival of her Uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode), whom she never knew existed. When Charlie moves in with her and her emotionally unstable mother Evie (Nicole Kidman), India thinks the void left by her father's death is finally being filled by his closest bloodline. Soon after his arrival, India comes to suspect that this mysterious, charming man has ulterior motives. Yet instead of feeling outrage or horror, this friendless young woman becomes increasingly infatuated with him.

Elegant direction helps to elevate a lackluster screenplay, but the cast plays things a bit too cool for comfort in "Stoker", a morbid inversion of Alfred Hitchcock's "Shadow of a Doubt" (1943) that marks the English-language feature debut of celebrated South Korean director Chan-wook Park-- a competent visual stylist with a flair for mystery. Thematically, Park's eerie domestic drama fits nicely into his canon, though its distinctive lack of sympathetic characters keeps us at arm's length from the action when we should be getting emotionally invested. While Wasikowska is a talented actresses of her generation, she's curiously flat here -and India feels like she should be a complex and rich protagonist--but the progression you're waiting for never quite comes. Goode's similarly hamstrung by Chan-wook and Miller's emphasis on style over character, although the twist-filled third act serves him better than anyone else and his performance is ultimately the one that haunts the most.

"Stoker" does not come close to rival the definitive audacity "Oldboy"-or overall thematic ambition of his "Vengeance" trilogy. The result is a nerve-racking Hitchcock riff, in its own right, which is respectable. All of which contributes to the nagging idea that "Stoker" doesn't truly know what it wants to be. The story seems to have been pushed and pulled in a variety of competing directions by many different parties. Overall, I enjoyed the film, but I still really would have preferred for the studio to allow Chan-wook Park to make the type of movie he usually makes. This "feels" Hollywood -a version that is edited and restrained, and not your traditional South Korean thriller. "Stoker"-Park Chan-wook's latest is a seductive slice of suspense, with an unexpectedly supernatural bravura. It's not understated to say moviegoers' were excited when director Park Chan-wook, director of "Oldboy" (2003) and "Lady Vengeance" (2005), announced he was making his first English language feature film. Chan-wook's best known on these shores for his visceral and character-driven Vengeance Trilogy. Unfortunately and simply put, we don't get what we had hoped for, or what could have been.

India (Mia Wasikowska) is an emotionally distant 18-year-old living with her mother (Nicole Kidman) in a sprawling mansion somewhere in the Deep South, and mourning the recent death of her father in a car accident. India was not prepared to lose her father and best friend Richard (Dermot Mulroney) in a tragic auto accident. The solitude of her woodsy family estate, the peace of her tranquil town, and the unspoken somberness of her home life are suddenly upended by not only this mysterious accident, but by the sudden arrival of her Uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode), whom she never knew existed. When Charlie moves in with her and her emotionally unstable mother Evie (Nicole Kidman), India thinks the void left by her father's death is finally being filled by his closest bloodline. Soon after his arrival, India comes to suspect that this mysterious, charming man has ulterior motives. Yet instead of feeling outrage or horror, this friendless young woman becomes increasingly infatuated with him.

Elegant direction helps to elevate a lackluster screenplay, but the cast plays things a bit too cool for comfort in "Stoker", a morbid inversion of Alfred Hitchcock's "Shadow of a Doubt" (1943) that marks the English-language feature debut of celebrated South Korean director Chan-wook Park-- a competent visual stylist with a flair for mystery. Thematically, Park's eerie domestic drama fits nicely into his canon, though its distinctive lack of sympathetic characters keeps us at arm's length from the action when we should be getting emotionally invested. While Wasikowska is a talented actresses of her generation, she's curiously flat here -and India feels like she should be a complex and rich protagonist--but the progression you're waiting for never quite comes. Goode's similarly hamstrung by Chan-wook and Miller's emphasis on style over character, although the twist-filled third act serves him better than anyone else and his performance is ultimately the one that haunts the most.

"Stoker" does not come close to rival the definitive audacity "Oldboy"-or overall thematic ambition of his "Vengeance" trilogy. The result is a nerve-racking Hitchcock riff, in its own right, which is respectable. All of which contributes to the nagging idea that "Stoker" doesn't truly know what it wants to be. The story seems to have been pushed and pulled in a variety of competing directions by many different parties. Overall, I enjoyed the film, but I still really would have preferred for the studio to allow Chan-wook Park to make the type of movie he usually makes. This "feels" Hollywood -a version that is edited and restrained, and not your traditional South Korean thriller. "Stoker"-Park Chan-wook's latest is a seductive slice of suspense, with an unexpectedly supernatural bravura. It's not understated to say moviegoers' were excited when director Park Chan-wook, director of "Oldboy" (2003) and "Lady Vengeance" (2005), announced he was making his first English language feature film. Chan-wook's best known on these shores for his visceral and character-driven Vengeance Trilogy. Unfortunately and simply put, we don't get what we had hoped for, or what could have been.

India (Mia Wasikowska) is an emotionally distant 18-year-old living with her mother (Nicole Kidman) in a sprawling mansion somewhere in the Deep South, and mourning the recent death of her father in a car accident. India was not prepared to lose her father and best friend Richard (Dermot Mulroney) in a tragic auto accident. The solitude of her woodsy family estate, the peace of her tranquil town, and the unspoken somberness of her home life are suddenly upended by not only this mysterious accident, but by the sudden arrival of her Uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode), whom she never knew existed. When Charlie moves in with her and her emotionally unstable mother Evie (Nicole Kidman), India thinks the void left by her father's death is finally being filled by his closest bloodline. Soon after his arrival, India comes to suspect that this mysterious, charming man has ulterior motives. Yet instead of feeling outrage or horror, this friendless young woman becomes increasingly infatuated with him.

Elegant direction helps to elevate a lackluster screenplay, but the cast plays things a bit too cool for comfort in "Stoker", a morbid inversion of Alfred Hitchcock's "Shadow of a Doubt" (1943) that marks the English-language feature debut of celebrated South Korean director Chan-wook Park-- a competent visual stylist with a flair for mystery. Thematically, Park's eerie domestic drama fits nicely into his canon, though its distinctive lack of sympathetic characters keeps us at arm's length from the action when we should be getting emotionally invested. While Wasikowska is a talented actresses of her generation, she's curiously flat here -and India feels like she should be a complex and rich protagonist--but the progression you're waiting for never quite comes. Goode's similarly hamstrung by Chan-wook and Miller's emphasis on style over character, although the twist-filled third act serves him better than anyone else and his performance is ultimately the one that haunts the most.

"Stoker" does not come close to rival the definitive audacity "Oldboy"-or overall thematic ambition of his "Vengeance" trilogy. The result is a nerve-racking Hitchcock riff, in its own right, which is respectable. All of which contributes to the nagging idea that "Stoker" doesn't truly know what it wants to be. The story seems to have been pushed and pulled in a variety of competing directions by many different parties. Overall, I enjoyed the film, but I still really would have preferred for the studio to allow Chan-wook Park to make the type of movie he usually makes. This "feels" Hollywood -a version that is edited and restrained, and not your traditional South Korean thriller. For additional reviews visit: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/member/Nesbitt10