[Film Review] STOKER (Sydney Film Festival)

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This year’s Sydney Film Festival showcased the products of the most talented directors and industry professionals. Korean director Park Chan-Wook delivered a premiere of his latest film, Stoker, a chilling portrayal of the loss of one adolescent’s innocence following the death of her father and her reconnection with her estranged Uncle Charlie.

Featuring homegrown talents Nicole Kidman, Mia Wasikowska and Jacki Weaver, this trio formed the perfect formula for a psychological thriller, with Matthew Goode also delivering a noteworthy performance as the psychopathic killer Charlie.

Mia Wasikowska plays India Stoker superbly as an individual, self-isolated from her family through the death of her father. However it is through the murderous antics of her uncle that she is reunited with family provided any of them survive his visit. In a Q & A following the premiere at the State Theatre, Park Chan-Wook discussed the importance of artistry to his film. Emphasizing a focus on human nature and the ‘unhinged’ through the recurrence of natural and organic elements. Shot beautifully, each frame and shift is evidentially testament to careful planning and the execution of a stunning vision.

Chan-Wook largely introduces India to the scene in profile shots and in this interview he explained that had he not found Wasikowska to play India, his entire vision for the film would have been kaput. I absolutely agree, as her look lends itself to that of innocence, especially baring in mind her portrayal of Alice in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland.

The beautiful nature of the film, each frame, natural motif and the appearance of family are in complete contrast to the film’s subject matter, allowing it to resonate as eerily creepy. Accompanying a dynamic and fast moving script courtesy of Wentworth Miller, Stoker is truly an expressive, engaging and enthralling film, and yet another example of the world’s finest film talent.

At parts you are completely engaged with the cast, and in others you are left feeling very uncomfortable and as isolated as the film’s protagonist. It is only an effective and successful film that can do this to an audience, and so, Stoker is highly recommended- though not for those under the age of 15 or who are queasy when they see blood.

Directed by Park Chan-Wook
Written by Wentworth Miller
Featuring: Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, Jacki Weaver

Reviewer: Sami Swilksy