“Just as a flower does not choose its color, we are not responsible for what we have come to be.” – India Stoker


Mia Wasikowska
Matthew Goode
Nicole Kidman


Park Chan-Wook


1st March, 2013


99 Minutes


Twisted in the obscurity which is the state of the dark mind, Stoker is a story that entices as it gives way to disturbing perfection.


When you see the name on the writer in the opening credits, Wentworth Miller, for a moment all you think of is criminals, tattoos, and Prison Break, not Gothic thrillers. However, threatening, bizarrely sinister and oddly gripping is the best description of Chan-wook Park’s English debut, Stoker. It is difficult to not feel uneasy by their disturbing creation with a fabulous soundtrack and exceptional camera work.


On her 18th birthday, India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska) loses her father to an unexplained accident, the one member of her dysfunctional family unit who understood her quirks. Now she is trapped in her gothic manor with her emotionally unstable mother Evelyn (Nicole Kidman), who clings to the edge of her sanity. A devilishly charming uncle, Charlie (Matthew Goode), comes to live with them even though Evelyn and India basically never knew this mystery man existed. His charisma sends the house staff into a gossiping muddle and terrify India’s aunt Gwendolyn (Jacki Weaver).


India, considered intellectual but creepy by everyone, finds herself increasingly ensnared by Charlie, who, like her father, seems to identify with her quirks that she never realized she possessed. He tries to befriend her by showing up to fetch her from school in his fancy car, warning her about the rain and leaving her an umbrella, yet she is indifferent to these gestures, in the beginning, but his sinister allure begins to shatter her cold shield.


A grotesquely claustrophobic environment that reigns over her psyche and India is subdued, and Charlie, too, is holding back until they unleash hostility by playing the piano together, competing wordlessly. Evelyn seems to be only one caught out-of-place by giving herself the liberty to chase her deviant desires and thus the characters react unbecomingly, making the viewer squirm in discomfort.


Park is extremely subtle in revealing the horrifying truth that plagues the Stoker family. He teases and agitates the viewer’s mentality to the very seams, as he prepares to expose yet another level of this unsettling story.


Mia Wasikowska, of the Alice in Wonderland fame, delivers another stellar performance of overwhelming intensity. She manages to demonstrate a flood of passion almost invisibly. KidmanĀ  is coldly self-possessed, and portraying this is essential to the story. Matthew Goode is an under-rated artist that performs enigmatically as he keeps the audience guessing until the end as to what is really on the nonchalant, yet delicately volatile Charlie’s mind.





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