I was very excited when I bought Stoker from the DVD store. I thought “Hey! First Park Chan-wook‘s english film, I must try this thing.”
Nicole Kidman (Evelyne Stoker) in a big house, close to the mansion’s structure, pale green of the walls; this few things reminded me the atmosphere of The Others directed by Alejandro Amenábar. But then, came her teenage girl India (performed by Mia Wasikowska) and I said “Oh my God, this is a character running away from the Adam’s family!” This blending of style and cinematographic references (Hitchcock‘s Shadow of a Doubt) were very attractive and Park Chan-wook was, once again, offering us a different menu; however it is again about revenge.
Indeed, the story is about, a family torn apart when the father (the handsome Dermot Mulroney) dies in a “car accident”, and his brother, the so-called uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode) came into the lives of the widow and the fatherless girl.
The relationship mother/daughter is defective, they are more represented as rivals than family and we can feel some jealousy between the two. Therefore, when Charlie came, the mother, literally jumped into his arms, and India, at the first place seemed more suspicious about this uncle who came from nowhere, but the more we go deeper and deeper in the movie, the more we ask ourselves “maybe, India is jealous, and angry about this uncle who choose her mother over her”. Thus, when he tried to get close to her niece , she rejected him, again and again.
That’s when the most beautiful scene of the movie is showed. She was playing the piano, and Charlie came (again from nowhere) to play with her; and at this specific time, a duet was formed. They kept playing and playing this bewitching music, with from time to time some scary tones in it. And it felt like it was more than a duet; it felt like the music was the fruit of sexual tension or action; India was having sex with her uncle through the piano, and when she was close to reach the orgasm, her uncle stopped, and disappeared.
But the girl was somehow relieved, from something, even if we don’t know what yet.
The incest in the movie is trivialized, or at least used as an element of horror. The obsession the uncle had for India for years and all the manipulative actions he took to get close to her, was quite frightening. Until where sociopaths can go to get something which had been forbidden for a very long time?
We are spectators of the India’s initiation to crime. Her uncle killed, in front of her, a boy who was trying to rape her. He strangled him. And when she came home that night, she went to the bathroom to clean herself; and at first, I thought she was crying in the shower, but something totally different was happening… She was masturbating thinking of the murder, and reached the orgasm when finally she came to the part where the neck of the boy broke.
Here again, Park Chan-wook directed a disturbing but somehow fascinating scene, alternating different shots. It is unquestionable that Mia Wasikowska is perfect in movies where she has a relationship with someone older, and is doing a perfect job performing those roles. She seems pure, discrete and reclusive; but this is only outwardly. She develops through the film an admiration for this men who came suddenly into her life, and who is so different from his father, and had this attractive craziness, and captivating look into his eyes. Wasikowska might be representing one of the greatest actors of her time (even if sometimes, her tastes in movies can be discussed).
Every character in the movie is bringing mystery and awkwardness, and the whole atmosphere, the crimes, those different characters, all of this was kid of reconstituting the Cluedo (the deduction board game). We, spectators, knew about the weapon used by the murderer, and who it was, but we were watching the others finding out. Only the dead father brought some humanity and love to the film, and to India, preventing her, while he was alive, of finding she had a killer nature. He was controlling this.
We cannot be disappointed by Park Chan-wook’s work, even if you didn’t like it this much, you always find something which was worthing watching the movie. And this is the most important thing in a filmmaker’s work: trying his best to attract by any way the spectator’s eyes.