Opening up opposite a slew of wide releases this weekend is the latest film from Korean director Park Chan-wook. If you recognize the name, then you've probably already made plans to go see Stoker in theaters. Hopefully there's one near you that is playing this excellent film.
For those who aren't familiar with the name, Park is the director of such cult classics like Lady Vengeance, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and Oldboy, the latter of which is getting a Hollywood remake by Spike Lee.
So what is Stoker and what makes it so good? First, the performances. From top to bottom, the film is filled with solid acting, including and especially the two leads, Mia Wasikowska and Matthew Goode who transform two mysterious characters into an oddly captivating dramatic narrative. Nicole Kidman, Jacki Weaver, Dermot Mulroney, Lucas Till and Alden Ehrenreich anchor a strong supporting cast.
The film follows Wasikowska's India, whose father has mysteriously died. Her Uncle Charlie (Goode), who she never knew existed, comes to live with her and her unstable mother (Kidman). Suspecting ulterior motives, India becomes increasingly infatuated with him.
The film is penned by Wentworth Miller, another name that looks familiar, especially to fans of the television series Prison Break. Miller crafts a part-thriller, part-mystery in his feature writing debut which Park then takes and add his own unique touch. Sound plays a huge part in this film as even the most minute sounds are amplified adding to the already rich cinematography of the film. For some, it may be a bit too artsy but the payoff in the closing moments of the movie are worth your patience.
Stoker, the title a nod to author Bram Stoker who wrote Dracula, a novel about an opportunist who preys on the innocent, combines lyrical beauty with shattering acts of violence.
Earlier this year, Jee-woon Kim made his English language film debut with The Last Stand. While that film landed with a dud, it's safe to say Stoker is definitely worth checking out. It's taut, it's engrossing and Goode gives the performance of his career.