Sundance Review and Roundup: Park Chan-Wook's Creepy 'Stoker'

by Anne Thompson
January 21, 2013 6:11 PM
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The Hollywood Reporter:

Park Chan-Wook leaves the expected streaks of blood across American screens in Stoker, his English-language debut about a young woman whose coming of age takes place among the corpses of family members and neighbors. Fans who have followed the Korean auteur since 2003's Oldboy will not be disappointed, but a high creep-out factor and top-drawer cast should attract genre fans who've never heard of him as well.


South Korean auteur Park Chan-wook's filmmaking always dances a fine line between sublime and absurd genre ingredients. "Stoker," his first American-set, English language picture, is no exception. It's tempting to resist describing the movie in terms of the cinematic traditions it calls to mind: Alfred Hitchcock's "Shadow of a Doubt" meets "Heathers," Park's creepy tale of a peculiar family wrapped up in murderous antics continues the twisted pleasures that define the director's filmography.


I first noticed Mia Wasikowska's work when she appeared on "In Treatment," and the performance she gave on that show convinced me that she is a powerhouse, someone of uncommon natural talent.  Like any actor, she's only as good as the roles she's given, and since "In Treatment," she hasn't had the best run of material.  "Stoker" is thin in some ways, but taken almost as an expression of her character's inner life, it is often very compelling.  She is very good playing off of Matthew Goode, who is well-cast as Uncle Charlie.  There is something corrupt about Goode's good looks, something crazy just under the surface.  It worked for him when he played Ozymandias in "Watchmen," and he rips into his character here with a dedication that is impressive.

Kidman is less well-treated by the material and she seems somewhat stranded in the role.

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  • Little My | January 22, 2013 5:22 AMReply

    Ummm but Critics have been kind it has received rave reviews from almost everybody except Indiewire's playlist. So...........

  • Kate | January 21, 2013 6:50 PMReply

    I frequently like Matthew Goode in lighter film fare. He's very charming. But he doesn't have the intensity or the nuance of some of his peers, like Michael Fassbender, Tom Hardy, or Cillian Murphy. He might be smart to try to carve out a Hugh Grant-like career for himself.

  • Jen | January 22, 2013 12:44 PM

    I disagree. Matthew Goode has loads of talent, and he can do the bad guy and good guy roles. Sadly, he hasn't found the right project to highlight his talents. Goode has the charisma and the acting talents of James McAvoy and Cillian Murphy.

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