Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Stoker: an odd, odd movie

Stoker is an entertaining movie. It's far from great, but it's so deliciously odd and strange that it's hard to stop yourself from watching. There are too many legitimate "what the fuck" moments to count. The style is so ridiculously transparent and obvious in its intentions that if you're able to just enjoy it for what it is, you won't recognize the movie for being as horrible as it damn well should be. My guess is that Wentworth Miller wrote a dull script (that somehow got on the Hollywood black list, which means it was dubbed one of the best unproduced screenplays in Hollywood), so director Park Chan-wook did everything he could to make it interesting. He succeeded. He couldn't save the movie, but he did make it more interesting than perhaps it deserved. Chan-wook is an amazingly talented filmmaker, but "Stoker" is just a calculated exercise in style. There never appears to be a true moment in the film, just an excuse for pretty imagery and "clever" camerawork.

The film follows the Stoker family. Her father just died, so now India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska) will be forced to live without someone she loved and bonded with the most throughout her life. Her mother, Evelyn (Nicole Kidman), is also distraught, but they both are thrown for a loop when Uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode) comes to visit and decides to stay with them. What's Uncle Charlie really about? How come we've never seen him before? Etc. Etc.

Everything is made obvious and deliberate in this movie. From the beginning when Uncle Charlie arrives, you know he's bad news. You know that something is obviously wrong with India too. In fact, it doesn't take too long before you realize that there's something wrong with this movie. It just doesn't feel right, something's off. The tone is so dour and the style is so overwhelming, what kind of movie is this? What is it trying to be? How are we, the audience, supposed to take it? It's just weirdness on top of weirdness.

To delve further into the plot is to spoil things because this film has, as you would expect, some "twists" and "turns." But if you catch on to the style of the movie early on, nothing will really surprise you because, really, the plot is so by-the-numbers that you almost can appreciate that Park Chan-wook tries so hard to keep you guessing.

There were parts where I couldn't help myself from laughing while watching this movie. It's so overdone. But I wouldn't stop you from seeing it. Be my guest. You'll either like it or you'll hate it. There's legitimately nothing in the middle here for you. I thought the movie was completely overdone but I didn't hate it. I was somehow able to enjoy the batshit insanity that goes on during most of the film. Whether or not you will too is all up to you.

Grade: C

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