Dir: Chan Wook-Park
Stars: Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode & Nicole Kidman
Asian cinema underwent a huge resurgence from the mid ‘90s onwards, and easily one of the leading lights has been Chan-Wook Park. I first became aware of him when I saw the thrilling JSA: Joint Security Area back in the early 2000s. Since then he has gone on to make some of the most intelligent, challenging and exciting films coming out of the East. With a stream of films including Lady Vengeance, Thirst, I’m a Cyborg and most notably Oldboy, the news of his first English language feature was both intriguing and exciting.
When India Stoker’s (Wasikowska) father dies, her hitherto unknown Uncle Charlie (Goode) turns up on the scene. Her unstable mother (Kidman) seems to be dealing with the loss rather easily, and when he decides to move in India suspects Charlie may have ulterior motives. There is something not quite right about Charlie though, and she finds herself becoming infatuated with him as an odd connection begins to develop between them.
If you’re expecting Oldboy, then you will be disappointed. Whilst Park may be most famous for his more extreme work, much of his career has been spend on more thoughtful and thought-provoking work. Stoker is an offbeat, macabre, Lynchian nightmare which is both absorbing and intriguing. The cinematography and editing is breathtaking and unsettling, and he uses sound wonderfully to perforate every moment of the drama. You need to keep your eyes peeled because it’s full of cleverness; resplendent with subtle intricacies and clues.
Mia Wasikowska is showing herself to be one of the best young actors around; putting in a perfectly judged performance. The supporting cast are also great and all seem to buy into the off-kilter story. When foreign directors foray into English Language film, the results are often disappointing (My Blueberry Nights, The Grudge etc), but with Stoker Chan-Wook Park has managed to produce something which merges extreme Asian cinema and the best of the macabre West.
See it now at http://www.showroomworkstation.org.uk/stoker