DVD Shopping Bag: Stoker Blu-ray (Mania.com)

By:Robert T. Trate
Date: Tuesday, July 02, 2013
Source: Mania.com

Mania has given me a lot of great opportunities in the 6 years that I have been writing for them. One of the finer moments came when I sat down with Chan-wook Park and did a 1:1 interview. Just he and I talking about movies. It was intimidating. We needed a translator first and foremost. However, what made it even more intimidating was that he was sitting in cabana surrounded by bikini babes sunning themselves by the pool. He looked like a gangster and I felt like I was going to ask Don Corleone a favor. 

Thankfully, I was there to chat about movies and not to have have someone bumped off. His latest film, Thirst, was about to debut and in our conversation we discussed Oldboy, Twilight and Lord of the Rings (read it here). Up to and including Thirst, Park had never made a film in English. I asked “Do you ever plan to make a film with American actors in the United States?”. That time has now come. So, obviously, when I heard that Park was making Stoker, I was immediately intrigued. 

Stoker is the story of India (Mia Wasikowska). She has recently lost her father (Dermont Mulroney) in a horrible car accident. Her Uncle, Charlie (Watchmen’s Matthew Goode), has come to stay with her and her mother (Nicole Kidman). India is shocked by Uncle Charlie’s appearance since no one ever told her that her father had a brother. 

The film starts off innocent enough. India is clearly not the normal everyday high schooler. In fact, her favorite passion (that she shared with her father) was hunting. India has learned to tune her senses to the world around her. Thus, she can hear and see better than most. Her Uncle Charlie seems harmless enough, but after the disappearance of the housekeeper and a warning from Great Aunt Ginny (Jacki Weaver), she begins to suspect something is up. 

This is in no way your typical drama, nor is it your typical psychological thriller. How could it be? It is directed by the mad man who brought us Oldboy. Park takes us deep into the world of the Stoker family and reveals only what he needs to in telling us his story. Each turn of the page takes us deeper and deeper into a world of family secrets and betrayals. When the film spins in one direction, our conclusion comes out all wrong. Park keeps us invested with the characters because each one of us has something in common with them.  We’ve all lost someone. We all want to be accepted. Each and every one of us wants to be unique, yet share the world with someone just like us.

The twist is nonexistent. There is no secret or “ah hah” moment. Park paints a world of two women trapped in a castle who have only a dark prince to aid them. The dark prince is on a quest, but only to find that which was lost. Fans of Chan-wook Park will appreciate his art direction and camera work. Each scene is a visual treat for the eyes and contrast to the scene that preceded it. He wants us to look for the meaning and deep secrets that we are not being told. That may be his greatest tool as a director. Park allows the audience to become engulfed in his stories. 

Stoker will not be for everyone. In fact, unless you are looking for something a little off kilter, Stoker probably won’t be for you. I recommend it for the true Cinemaphile who loves an interesting, different story, and for someone who can appreciate the style of Chan-wook Park. 

Stoker is out now on Blu-ray and DVD from Fox Searchlight Pictures. 

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