Monday, 7 September 2015

I've Just Seen: Stoker (2013)

Stoker (2013)

Director: Park Chan-wook

If Alfred Hitchcock and Tim Burton got together to make a movie, I imagine that Stoker would be the result. There is the slightly cool 'blonde' from Hitchcock; here that role is filled by Nicole Kidman's Evelyn, who is grappling with the death of her husband, a cold, distant daughter and a life of unfulfilled ambition. There are also shades of Shadow of a Doubt, as Matthew Goode's Uncle Charlie has an air of threat and villainy, and also a close bond with his niece. It is Mia Wasikowska's India who brings the Burton-esque oddness, though it is rather more adult than Burton would portray.

Park Chan-wook's direction is very stylish, almost distractingly so. He creates a great sense of menace. The over-saturated colours are deliberately oppressive, giving the film an overall old-fashioned feel, like it was a Technicolor thriller from the 1950s. The costuming also adds to this, with Evelyn's elegant dresses, and India's cardigans and skirts (the setting is actually contemporary).

The sexuality that simmers under the surface in many of Hitchcock's film is openly expressed in this film, with a very incestuous love triangle as the film's heart. Park Chan-wook turns a piano duet into a erotic moment between Charlie and India, and uses shoes as a metaphor for sexual maturity.

While not as good as Oldboy, Stoker is a deeply unsettling yet visually wonderful film with three strong performances from Wasikowska, Goode and Kidman.

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