I am a big fan of Chan-wook Park’s films so I was delighted to hear that he was making his first English language film.
Stoker is a coming of age story following India, a standoffish, odd teen. On India’s 18th birthday, her father dies in an accident leaving her alone with her unpredictable mother Evie.
At the funeral India’s Uncle Charlie, the brother of her father, comes to pay his respects. India has never heard anything about him so she becomes more weary to his welcoming charms. When Evie tells India that Charlie will be staying with them she’s torn between her curiosity about him and her suspicious that something is off.
Charlie actively pursues a kinship with India which eventually wears down her strong exterior.
India starts to uncover Charlie’s dark side and ulterior motives. Instead of fearing him she becomes uncontrollable infatuated with him which leads her to understand more about herself.
At the same time, Evie becomes instantly drawn to Charlie and is blinded by his suspicious mannerisms. She quickly forgets about her deceased husband while she flirts with Charlie. Evie starts to see Charlie’s bond with India and it causes a riff in their already deteriorating mother/daughter relationship.
India’s relationship with Charlie frees her from any questions of why she is the person she is, knowing that it’s in her blood.
At the end of the film, putting aside the incestuous tones and any ick factor I may have had during the course of my viewing, I love the morbid sense of India’s coming into womanhood. Finding out who you are on your own is hard enough but knowing that there is a relative that is as strange as you or has the same habits as you makes your journey through life a little less lonely.
Stoker harbors some Hitchcockian psychological elements while maintaining erotic tension between all characters. The performances between Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman and Matthew Goode is undeniable forceful and potent. I hope Park is inspired to do more Americanized films such as this one.
Stoker is playing at selected theaters but if it’s not playing near you, I suggest checking it out when it’s available.