After the sudden and tragic death of her father in an automobile accident, India is left to live in a house alone with her emotionally unstable mother. Unexpectedly, her Uncle Charlie, who India never even knew existed, comes to live with them mere days after the funeral. While Charlie appears incredibly charming, he is a mysterious man which leaves India curious about his ulterior motives. Love him or hate him, the one thing about Park Chan-Wook's films is they all are very stylistically done and his american debut, Stoker, is no different. Park employs a barrage of stylized camera work from off-kilter compositions, jump cuts, extreme close-ups, layering of image, etc to create a sense of unease throughout the majority of Stoker's running time. In fact, Stoker's greatest attribute, by far, lies in this omnious atmospheric tension which straddles the entire narrative. Matthew Goode and Mia Wasikowska are both great in their respective roles, each with strong off-kilter performances. Unfortunately for Stoker, all the style and atmosphere in the world cannot save the film from being an average narrative with a conclusion that is never earned. The relationship between Charlie and India is the central arch of the story and while most of it is fascinating to watch, I don't think India's decision and "transformation", so to speak, was developed enough to achieve what Park was going for. I'll try to be vague, in an attempt to not spoil the film but Stoker's primary theme revolves around its belief in fate or destiny, yet it relies too heavily on simply telling us instead of having it unfold in a natural way among India's character. Besides a few very small moments I never saw even subtle indications of what was going to transpire leaving the ending very unsatisfying and quite frankly ridiculous. In my opinion, Stoker is maybe the best example of what has plagued most of Park Chan-wook's filmography, his inability to back up his unique style with a narrative which unfolds naturally.
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