Stoker – 2013

Director Park Chan-Wook
Starring Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode, Nicole Kidman, Dermot Mulroney, Jacki Weaver, Lucas Till, Alden Ehrenreich, Phyllis Somerville, Ralph Brown, Judith Godrèche
Written by Wentworth Miller

This is Mia Wasikowska.  She is beautiful, innocent, haunted, playful.  She is hiding in plain sight.  When one thinks they have her character is the moment they could not be furthest away.  A few years ago, she was a bright light in an otherwise bloated and dark Alice in Wonderland.  In fact, one could argue that her character was the one thing that Tim Burton got right.  Immediately afterword, she fit seamlessly into the beautiful ensemble The Kids Are Alright.  She was not a lead, but one could not deny her power.  Invariably, she has chosen more difficult and offbeat roles.  The latest of these is as India Stoker, an 18-year-old who recently lost her father.

Her uncle, Charlie (Goode) appears around this time and conveniently moves in.  Before long, the maid disappears.  This would be quite a disturbance to the inhabitants of the house, were it not for the growing infatuation of mother (Kidman) and daughter to their long lost uncle.  Most viewers would thing they know where this is headed, but in the literary hands of Miller and under the direction of Chan-Wook, we are taken on an enthralling journey spiralling through despair, into desire and straight on to horror.

All performances are spot on, right down to Jacki Weaver’s Aunt Gin.  She has something to say, but is afraid to say it.  Goode and Kidman are as lecherous as they are creepy and the roles suit each.  The images presented by the director of Old Boy are impressively creative, running into one another, and always matching the dialogue.  This is a story that has been told often before, but with a flair and imagination that makes it seem new, and often shocking.

The film’s biggest asset, though, is Wasikowska.  We experience every emotion through her, and the range is exhausting.  In particular, the piano duet with Goode is one of the most riveting scenes I have experienced and the montage in the shower is not far behind.  All of this draws in the viewer, but not in a superficial way.  This girl is weird, alluring, dangerous and really in need of a hug.

This is a film that will not surprise you with twists, as much as performance and skill.  It should be seen by those who want to experience a movie and not just watch one.

(****1/2 out of *****)


  1. Even though this movie was inspired by Hitchcock’s “Shadow of a Doubt” (Joseph Cotten’s character in that movie is named Uncle Charle), I was on the fence. I’ll have to see it now for sure.

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