Film Review: Stoker

Stoker

Stoker will surely be one of the year’s most memorable films. Director Chan-wook Park and screenwriter Wentworth Miller have created something truly special.

Following the death of India Stoker’s father, her Uncle Charlie comes to stay with India and her mother. India never even knew she had an uncle, and is suspicious of her new family member. As her mother becomes more taken with their new arrival, India’s interest grows…

Stoker is enthralling for its entire duration. The opening title sequence sets a bar that the remainder of the film reaches. Park’s film is aesthetically sumptuous, but also rich in terms of narrative. It is one of those rare examples of both style and substance being on point.

With a title such as Stoker, it is understandable that viewers may have certain ideas of the film’s themes. Miller’s screenplay excels in keeping the audience guessing. The sense of mystery is potent; for a significant time it is unclear where the film is going. Even at its climax Stoker is never predictable.

Stoker is ripe with Gothic themes. Transgression and duality are recurring motifs. There are some nods to folklore, whilst Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt cannot have been far from Miller’s mind. Stoker has a unnerving atmosphere that permeates the entire film. It is hard to escape this, even in the heavily-populated familiar settings.

Chan-wook Park direction is stunning. Stoker has a look of restrained engorgement. The film is laden with symbolism and distinctive imagery, yet this never feels forced or over pronounced. The camera work is beautiful and there is a breath-taking dissolve that highlights Park’s flair for the visual. Performances are excellent in Stoker, particular from lead Mia Wasikowska. Matthew Goode really seems to inhabit the character of Charlie, while Nicole Kidman is utterly believable as India’s mother.

Stoker is most highly recommended. An immaculate slice of cinema.