Grigory Ryzhakov – Russian Writer

Film of the Week: Stoker. India’s Story of Death, Love and Insanity


Stoker is a Hollywood debut of the renowned Korean director of Oldboy Chan-wook Park influenced by a Hitchock’s Shadow of a Doubt.

It’s a noir, a psychological thriller, yet a quiet meditative one, with its Oriental aesthetics and rich metaphors, a welcome tide of freshness in the stale marshes of  this genre.

Despite its dark plot, Stoker evoked rather good emotions in me. It made me accept the human weaknesses in it as they are, not in a judgemental way, and sympathise with a main heroine, India.

After the death of her father (Dermot Mulroney), India (Mia Wasikowska) is visited by her mysterious uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode) who promptly strikes an affair with her not-so-grieving mom (Nicole Kidman). But this is just the top of the story iceberg as India gradually learns about the terrifying past of her family and realises her own dangerous nature.

Stoker meticulously investigates a soul of a murdurer. Even behind insanity it finds underlying logical explanations of what could provoke violent behaviour.

India’s inner confusion is central to the story. Personal tragedy, infatuation with her uncle, isolation – they mess her mind making her do reckless things. Yet the outcome is ironically predictable: a daughter of the architect, she should put things back in order, even if the price is self-condemnation and spilled blood.

I won’t give you the story spoilers like some reviewers who hated Stoker did, who couldn’t get their minds beyond the plot. I’ll just say that this film is for someone for likes deciphering metaphors and contemplating on human psyche.

Stoker is a cinematic revelation and I hope Park’s brilliant debut would serve as a welcome signal to other non-American directors to use Hollywood’s commercial platform for engaging with mainstream audiences.


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