Monday, August 5, 2013

Film Review: Stoker (2013)

Stoker (Review)
United States/United Kingdom/South Korea/2013
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...masterfully crafts a surreal, and ominous, experience without a single flaw..."

On her 18th birthday, India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska) -- a young girl with powerful senses -- is shaken by her father's fatal car crash. During the mourning, India and her estranged mother, Evelyn (Nicole Kidman), come in contact with Uncle Charlie Stoker (Matthew Goode) -- a charming and charismatic man -- who's quickly invited into their home... and family.

Stoker continues to tell the story of India and her newfound uncle, Charlie -- and their eerie relationship. The relationship is buildup through chilling encounters, between each other and several third-parties; these third-parties range from family to classmates, regardless, the encounters are effective in creating the dark atmosphere and work well as bridges. With an ominous vibe throughout, Charlie's profession is eventually revealed, and his ulterior motives are as sinister and disturbed as expected. But, it doesn't end there, no; Stoker continues into a bloodbath (and beyond) -- a dark ending open for your interpretation.

Stoker features a story that delves deep into the human psyche; with its deep, and dark, psychological undertones, Stoker explores the uncharted -- and I like that, a lot. On top of these interesting undertones, Stoker oozes symbolism through its captivating visuals. This symbolism subtly explores the same undertones as the storyline; however, these symbolic images can be missed (or ignored) and are often open for interpretation, whereas the story is somewhat simplistic yet effective -- though, some may argue that the undertones of the main story are too deep and can be missed, I don't think you will. In other words, the film is disturbing, it's bleak; yet... it's deep and poetic.

From beginning to end, the film is visually and sonically engaging; the stylish visuals are beautiful to view and interpret, while the music blends seamlessly with the story and evokes the proper emotion at the proper time. The amazing camerawork is effectively complimented by the creative and unique editing. Every element in this film is incredibly engaging, creating an effectively surreal experience -- only those unwilling to truly explore the mind will find this film slow or uninteresting considering the spectacular visuals. Thanks Park Chan-wook's genuinely brilliant direction, the audience is captivated throughout the entire film; I can't stress it enough, Park is true visionary.

Mia Wasikowska is fantastic as the lead; her calm performance manages to capture every emotion necessary -- without being underwhelming or overacting. Matthew Goode is charismatic in his role, usually with a large, charming smile on his face; however, he also hits a wide range of emotions. Nicole Kidman is great, although she has very little screen time; I love her short monologue. As previously stated, the music, the cinematography, the direction, and the writing are superb. The technical aspects of the film are executed without flaw.

Overall, Stoker is a fantastic and surreal look into the darkness of the human psyche; the superb story is effectively complimented by the superb audio and visuals. Park Chan-wook masterfully crafts a surreal, and ominous, experience without a single flaw; in fact, this is Park's best work since Oldboy. This is a master's work, and it'll only get better on repeat viewings.

Score: 10/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood, brief nudity and sexuality.

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