STYLIST PICKS, THIS TIME IT’S A FILM - “STOKER”

STYLIST PICKS, THIS TIME IT’S A FILM - “STOKER”

18th June 2013 // By Rebecca Lay // Must Watch

So, for those of you who aren’t aware, the Sydney Film Festival celebrated its 60th year a few days ago; with films from far and wide screening in our fair city over a couple weeks. And, as you do, I went along to see a couple of films that piqued my interest. So, I’m going to be giving a bit of a review of them; it occurs to me now that we’ve never actually done a review of a film …

But, why would we care about your thoughts and opinions regarding films, particularly when you’ve never reviewed a film before in your life? And you’re no real aficionado on things filmic, rather you just enjoy watching films?” I hear you reasonably ponder. Well, you probably wouldn’t care but I’m going to write one any way. And so that puts an end to that … *exaggeratedly dusts hands off * Just to reiterate (in case you just haven’t got it yet): I’ve never written a film review, and my filmic knowledge and its accompanying lexicon are limited, to say the least. So, be gentle …

Right. First up is the psychological thriller Stoker, directed by South Korean auteur Park Chan-wook (The Vengeance Trilogy) in his first English language film, which stars Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland, Jane Eyre, Lawless), Matthew Goode (Watchmen, Brideshead Revisited, A Single Man), Nicole Kidman (Moulin Rouge, BMX Bandits, Tom Cruise’ ex-wife), oh, and Jacki Weaver makes an appearance too. Go us! By which I mean Australia …

Digressions aside … Stoker begins with the devastating death of India’s (Wasikowska) father— whom she has an extremely close bond with, in a car accident on her 18th birthday and the coincidental appearance of the mysterious and charismatic Uncle Charlie (Goode). The dashing good looks and charm of Uncle Charlie make quick work of India’s emotionally unstable mother Evie (Kidman) but India proves more wary, at first. So, yeah, by attempting to seduce his just-dead brother’s wife and, AND his niece, you could say Uncle Charlie has issues, big, huge, massive issues but so, it appears, do the rest of them. Though still not as messed up as his; [spoiler] Uncle Charlie being a psychopathic serial killer and all … The cold and affectionless mother-daughter relationship becomes even more tenuous when Uncle Charlie decides to stay in the gloriously set country manor house with roving wild gardens as both India and Evie find themselves becoming increasingly drawn to the suave and enigmatic houseguest.

There is something naïve but menacing about Goode’s Uncle Charlie— a quality I don’t think Colin Firth (the first choice for the role) could have delivered quite so effectively … or attractively … The ensuing sexual tension and violence of the second half of the film provides some of the more interesting and dynamic scenes. The erotically charged piano duet between India and Uncle Charlie, for instance, as scored by Phillip Glass, is creepily wonderful.

This twisted, at times oddly comical, bildungsroman takes its inspiration from Hitchcock’s Shadow of A Doubt but Wentworth Miller’s (yep, the guy from Prison Break) screenwriting debut is a little wanting in narrative drive and even dialogue—some of the dialogue and action is a little silly and ridiculous at times. However, the performances, cinematography by Chung Chung-hoon combined with director Park’s cinematic inventiveness more than makes up for the script’s lacking— it was such a sublimely crafted film.

Stoker is a tale based on the theme of bad blood and the age-old discourse about nature versus nurture. The symbolism, which the film is sporadically dotted with, and eeriness of Stoker lingers with you a while after you see it, so I suppose that’s something to be said of Miller’s narrative. As the film begins where it eventually ends, India’s voice over encapsulates the film’s underlying concept, “Just as a flower does not choose its color, we are not responsible for what we have come to be.” When the lights went up and as I made my way to the train stationI was a bit conflicted about how I felt about Stoker; I was all “hhhmmmm … ”. But now, in hindsight, on further reflection, I think I quite liked it. So, what the hell is up with Uncle Charlie? What is it he wants from India? And what will India do when she finds the answers to these questions? Watch the film and find out for yourselves, duh … or Wiki it … whatever … I give Stoker— oooooohhh, I get to give a value to something based on a rather ambiguous and inadequate valuing system like I’m some kind of authority on films …

 

P.S. Director Park (plus his translator) and Mia appeared after the screening for a Q&A so that was super cool. Just thought I’d mention that … oh, and I also saw David Stratton from ABC’s At The Movies leaving the cinema-sure it was just the back of his head but I assure you it was indeed him-who could mistake those distinctive snow white whiskers . . ? P.P.S. One does not buy a massive tub of popcorn for a film festival screening. It just isn’t done. The crunching and ruffling through of salted and buttered pieces of puffed corn is rather uncouth, it appears. Suffice it to say, a huge tub of popcorn lays cold and lonesome in a train station rubbish bin out there, somewhere …

Google+