Wednesday, April 3, 2013
3 Thoughts on Stoker
1. The writer - If I didn't already know that the film was written by Wentworth Miller (yes, the guy from Prison Break) before watching the movie, and someone tried to tell me this after watching it, there is no way in hell I would believe it. I hope everyone in his life is encouraging him to write more and quit acting altogether (seriously, like right now.). The plot is a simple "nature vs. nurture" story, revolving around a teenage girl, India Stoker - played to creepy perfection by Mia Wasikowska (more on her later). She states in the beginning "Just as a flower doesn't choose it's color, we don't choose what we are going to be". This foreshadowing is as obvious as it is bold. It makes a statement and the narrative doesn't stray from this boldness for one second. The idea of "evil" is explored - is it genetics? Are some just born "evil"? Can this "evil" be extinguished? The idea has been done before, but religion is usually involved (The Omen), but this film doesn't even bring God (or the Devil) into the equation. Instead, Miller focuses the story on the family element. Without divulging too much personal information, I strangely can relate to this family. There is someone who I am genetically close to, who is pure evil. It's horrifying to think about, considering that his entire family is relatively normal. He grew up the same way his 3 brothers did, so how did he end up this way? Miller's answer is that it is in fact genetically "in our nature". We will become what we are meant to be. It's probably a good thing that I have no intentions of procreating.
2. The director - Park Chan-wook took this rather simple story and made a film so aesthetically appealing (and appalling) that the story seems complicated. I was at the edge of my seat the whole time, even though I knew exactly what would happen next. You know you are watching a well-directed movie when camera angles become metaphors (relating to the shift of power between the characters). If a scene was light on dialogue, it was filled with spine-tingling sounds or an unsettling visual atmosphere. Even India's wardrobe was important to the story. To say that the film felt "Hitchcockian", is an understatement. This is as close to a "modern-day" Hitchcock film that I've ever seen. I agree with some critics that the film played it a little safe, compared to Park's previous films, but that doesn't make it any less brilliant. I can't imagine this film not being at the top of my list of favorite movies this year.
3. The actors - Sublime casting. Mia Wasikowska is stunning. Most actresses would turn this into a typical "dark, moody teenager" role, instead Mia plays this role with a sympathetic innocence. I can, once again, forgive Matthew Goode (he goes from terrible, Watchmen, to amazing, A Single Man, to terrible, Leap Year, to amazing again). He is brilliant in this super creepy role. I think the narrative is clear, from the beginning, that he doesn't have the best intentions, but it's still fascinating to watch his character reveal itself. Nicole Kidman had an easier role (she is naturally "cold". Is that mean? I feel bad, but it's true). Even when she tries to connect with her daughter, you can still feel her distance. It all just works so well together. Perfection.