Stoker [DVD] 
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From celebrated Korean director Chan-wook Park (Lady Vengeance, Oldboy), comes his first English-language film starring Nicola Kidman, Mia Wasikowska and Matthew Goode. After India’s father dies in an auto accident, her uncle Charlie, whom she never knew existed, comes to live with her and her emotionally unstable mother. Soon after his arrival, India begins to suspect that this mysterious, charming man has ulterior motives, but instead of feeling outrage or horror, this friendless girl becomes increasingly infatuated with him.
“Superb” ***** Empire
“A Masterpiece” ***** HeyUGuys.co.uk
“Ravishing” ***** Glamour
“Mia Wasikowska is a revelation” **** Kevin Harley, Total Film
- Deleted Scenes
- Featurettes: • The Making of the International Limited Edition Poster • Characters • Director's Vision • Designing the Look • Creating the Music
Stoker is a masterful psychodrama that teems with unsettling vibrations that hark directly back to Alfred Hitchcock, but also to the wave of contemporary cinema that has been surging in South Korea for the past decade. It is the first American feature by the auteur Park Chan-wook, whose widely seen trilogy of "revenge" films, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy, and Lady Vengeance, paved the way for the meticulous craftsmanship of Stoker. The inspiration for Wentworth Miller's haunting script was Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt, though Stoker makes for an altogether creepier tale of a mysterious uncle, his melancholy niece, and the deadly interplay of family secrets slowly revealed. Park's delicate weaving of style transforms the material into a narrative symphony, with thematic elements conveyed in the smallest details of composition, art direction, and graceful cinematography. Mia Wasikowska is India Stoker, the teenage niece who just lost her father to a violent auto accident. It's a complete surprise to India and her mother Evelyn (Nicole Kidman) when his handsome younger brother Charlie (Matthew Goode) shows up at the brooding family mansion (itself a character that is integral to the story). Charlie's enigmatic smirk signals both calm and danger, and his presence is a catalyst that ratchets up the emotional turmoil India and Evelyn are already experiencing. India senses the danger even as she is drawn to Charlie, and her mother's repressed sexuality turns into a bonfire under his mysterious charm. He tempts and teases them both in an expertly choreographed dance of menace that fuels the rage building in India and puts further pressure on her mother's cataclysmic despair. Charlie's psychopathic presence infests the brooding, yet deceptively airy surroundings of the Stoker estate with a sense of peril that is just out of reach. Several key scenes unfold at the family dinner table, where poison lurks in Freudian undercurrents and maybe in the food and wine, too. The most mesmerising sequence captures a visit from the sheriff, who's investigating the murder of one of India's schoolmates. The crime is just one of many acts of deadly violence that erupt with jarring force in the past, present, and future of Stoker's disturbing timeline. As the sheriff talks to India and Charlie, the camera swirls around to the rhythm of the scene, separating, uniting, then retreating from them in a virtuosic room-to-room sweep. The extended take says much more about the interplay of India and Charlie's dread connection than the oblique dialogue. It's also a breathtaking illustration of Park's obsessive attention to shot design. But Stoker is much more than an exercise in style; it is also an unnerving and understated thriller that gives big rewards for all that attention to detail. To say that there are plot twists is an understatement for a movie whose elegant creativity is the biggest twist of all. --Ted Fry
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Now first thing's first. If you haven't sen the film, watch it knowing as little as possible.
Still here? Okay. This movie is a feast for the eyes and the ears - the score and final song and elegant, and the use of sound is effective at portraying the world of someone who's senses are suprsensitive. It all adds to the effective double-mystery of both India and the creepy but suave Uncle Charlie. The film hints throughout - eveb the title "Stoker" has many wondering if this is about vampires. It reminds me of a series of stories Ray Bradbury wrote about a strange family where they all had weird powers. The answer when it comes is perfect - a bit gothic melodrama, but then that fits with the mood as a whole.
Not that it's without its flaws. The screenplay is a little clunky. The story itself is cracking but occasionally the dialogue is a bit wooden (though the actors mainly overcome this). Worst is the unnecessary exchange between Kidman and the aunt about Richard ("your husband, my nephew"). Some characters (all the teenage boys) suffer as a result of being sketchily written. And there are occasions (I'm thinking especially "letters") when an intriguing revelation is almost immediately followed by another that twists things around. These twists are good, but it's a shame the movie doesn't let these little timebombs sit for longer before revealing themselves as they could turn everything on their heads.
But these are minor quibbles. The direction, look and excellent performances bring a depth to the story that elevates this into a striking film. Kidman's brittleness works well here, but this is Goode and Wasikowska's movie. Goode gives Uncle Charlie a spooky charm and an unwavering hunter's stare. And Wasikowska portrays so much of India's confused journey of self-discovery by revealing so little. We really can't be sure of her final trajectory because she plays it close to her chest and she's excellent.
This film is not a case of style over substance: as I said earlier, the central story is already a strong one. One of my favourite films is "Don't Look Now" and it was only recently I realised that the dialogue is occasionally clichéd and wooden - but the story, direction and performances elevate above that and make it a clasic. "Stoker" isn't quite that good but it's still an amazing film to experience, and an intimate and self-contained chamber-piece, most effective when it's at its most claustrophobic.
Worth a watch if you like simple psychological teasers, and a relaxing but tort picture, that doesnt insult or assault the senses. It is just neat and tidy, maybe too much.
This is one of the few and most representative examples left of Hollywood managing not to spoil a foregin director but to even force him to be more controlled and balanced without losing his style.
Some said that this film is a false step in his career, but I prefer not to rely on the clichè according to which, anytime a foreigner works in an american production, he automatically loses his style. As a matter of fact, I remember how Hollywood help great european directors (Fritz Lang, Wilder, Hitchcock, etc...) to even improve their style in the glorious 30s to 50s.
THE FILM, THE DIRECTOR
So, in my opinion, this is his best movie (yes, better than Lady Vengeance and Old Boy).
He tried himself with the need for storytelling and the long tradition of Hollywood noir (starting with Hitchcock, all the way to Polansky, Lynch, etc...)and succeeded.
Stoker is a work of art, where every shot and moment is perfect and makes this dark story even darker.
Great to see it doesn't need to be long (less than 1 and 1/2 hour long) yet it seems so dense and full of significance and cinema and atmosphere, that you really don't care when some piece don't exactly explain itself. You just let yourself go with this irresistible and unique touch, that Hollywood, still and once again, managed to add value to instead of diminishing. A must-watch and watch again
Like a gothic fairy-tale, I found the Hitchcock-isque 'Stoker' to be very easy to follow and understand. The story unfolds slowly, but it didn't take me very long to find myself intrigued by the dark and mysterious goings on. If you enjoy wonderfully dark, and thought provoking movies, designed to make you think rather than shoving fast action sequences in your face, then you may find this one as enjoyable as I did. With excellent performances from the actors portraying the unusual Stoker family, Nicole Kidman as the seemingly emotionless mother also makes up the cast.
On the DVD, there is a wealth of bonus features, including deleted scenes, featurettes, the trailer, and the option of subtitles for the hard-of-hearing.
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