Issue 49 - March

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FILM 14 Issue 49 / 2013 Stoker Perhaps the strangest thing about Stoker, the latest film from Oldboy director Chanwook Park, is not the pseudo-incestuous undertones that rage throughout, but the fact that Wentworth Miller - yes he of Prison Break fame - is the man behind it���s icy screenplay. But it���s not just Miller who makes an impressive debut ��� this is Park���s first US picture, and fortunately the Korean auteur has lost none of his trademark vigour. Though more subdued than his infamous Vengeance Trilogy (ultraviolent climax notwithstanding), Stoker still makes for an unsettling viewing experience. Mia Wasikowska stars as India Stoker, an 18-year-old outcast whose sullen expression only intensifies upon the grisly death of her father (Dermot Mulroney). Despite viewing his brothers funeral from a watchful distance, India���s estranged uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode) soon makes himself known, their encounters pulsating with a hint of sexual menace. Matriarch Evelyn (Nicole Kidman), meanwhile, is quick to fall prey to the charms of her brotherin-law, although both are burdened with a dark family secret. Twisted, disturbing and packed with beautiful, suggestive imagery, this is probably what Tim Burton was aiming for with Dark Shadows. The film carries a rather compelling brand of coldness, reflected through its stilted silences, Kidman���s glassy eyes and Chunghoon Chung���s cool cinematography. Things do heat up when India and Charlie become partners-in-crime, the crime in question involving a smattering of bloody demises, but Park keeps things tasteful, at least until the final act. Kidman, Wasikowska and Goode, meanwhile, all manage to impress, adding class and conviction (and in Wasikowska���s case, a barely-restrained sense of burgeoning sexual prowess) to what could have been a campy disaster of a movie. On reflection, perhaps the strangest thing about Stoker is in fact its unassailable allure.

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