Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Scumming of age

“Stoker” isn’t a biopic about writer Bram Stoker, as one might think upon hearing the title. It’s a psychological thriller centering on teen outcast India Stoker, memorably played by “Alice in Wonderland’s” Mia Wasikowska.
Directed by Park Chan-wook and written by “Prison Break” actor Wentworth Miller, “Stoker” is dark and moody, a disturbing and visually appealing film empowered by amazing portrayals. It’s far from a comfortable sojourn, which is apt, as the tone consistently pervades into anticipated and unsettling moments.

Distant but oddly sensitive, India is coping with the sudden loss of her father (Dermot Mulroney), who perished in a mysterious accident. Appearing at the funeral is an uncle she’s never heard of, Charlie (Matthew Goode), who’s welcomed by her mother (Nicole Kidman) into their home. Suspicious of the stranger’s timing, India nevertheless continues with her life like nothing’s amiss.

“Stoker’s” focus on imagery is striking, although it doesn’t get it right immediately (the transition of scenes from the egg to India’s eye is iffy, mainly because of the angle). But there’s a painterly mindset that keeps things attractive, even when things get bloody.

And it’s a violent film. India’s coming-of-age story is both distressing and creepy, especially when the truth about Uncle Charlie’s presence is revealed. The film is somewhat reminiscent of the thriller “Joshua,” and is quite possibly the twisted reflection of “Hanna.” It’s chilling at times, numbing at certain points, and it leaves you queasy, and not surprisingly, a little stoked. 

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