STOKER, From Fox Searchlight Pictures and Director Park Chan-Wook, Delivers a Daring, Mind Bending,Thriller

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STOKER, a twisted psychological thriller, from FOX Searchlight Pictures, Indian Paintbrush and Korean Director Park Chan-Wook recently held its Los Angeles Media Day at the SLS Beverly Hills.

Produced by the late Tony Scott, Ridley Scott and Michael Costigan, STOKER stars Nicole Kidman, Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode and Dermot Mulroney and was written by Wentworth Miller.

STOKER is one of those types of films that when you exit the theater you’re hesitant to say “I liked it” or “I enjoyed it” as it explores deeply dark emotions and behaviors. And STOKER resonates! Sitting around dissecting my own thoughts for this review, it became a psychological exploration of acceptable behaviors and mores.

Curbing my usual desire to launch into a dissertation of human behaviors, STOKER explores a spirit of “contagious evil” as Director Park stated during the Press Conference and coupled with the intense character driven performances by Nicole Kidman, Mia Wasikowska, and Jonathan Goode, STOKER adds layer upon layer of a nurture verses nature argument and even after the dust of the film has settled and the talent has given additional insight STOKER still weaves its own story.

Although the story doesn’t lend itself to particular trails and ideas, the possibility that “bad blood” as Ms. Kidman stated during the press conference, or the notion of a bad seed or hereditary “bad blood” according to Director Park is very evident and honestly as old as Cain and Able, the brothers in the Old Testament. Cain murdered Able simply because he was able. The story is the same in STOKER.

Jonathan Goode’s character, Charles Stoker, is Able and like a good psychological thriller, is Cain. He is smooth; a life of lies has given him access to the hearts and minds of his deceased brother’s family. Arriving on the day of the funeral, an unexpected telephone call, the one no family wants to receive, brings this young, handsome, apparently well educated, well traveled and fantastic cook into the home filling the sudden void left by husband and father, portrayed in flashback by Dermot Mulroney.

Although the story doesn’t revolve around Charles Stoker, the triangle filled with mother-daughter strife, a lifetime of eccentric behaviors kept under wraps by a father hiding a secret, a daughter’s hidden desire carried out, most of her young life, through acceptable societal boundaries, and life unraveling as the glue, the go between, the husband and father, dies unexpectedly, it does as he, Charles, untroubled by his own past, deals with it without hesitation.

Admittedly, Ms. Kidman stated during the press conference Evie, her charcater, is “starved for love” and although that lends itself to a bad marriage scenario, it appears more possible starved for affection, as time diminishes passion and is replaced by routine, from her husband and clearly starved for the love of her child, who according to Kidman was told by Director Park, to think of India, embodied by Mia Wasikowska, as a child “who never wanted her to hold her” and almost repulsed by the touch of her mother.

Having the opportunity to attend the STOKER Media Day, held at the SLS Beverly Hills, the following is an excerpt:

Janet Walker: Congratulation on the film. I found it deeply intriguing and so many layers and with all the characters inherently, the characters were pretty, evil with all of that, in the filming, I guess my question was there a memorable moment throughout your entire filming, because it created so many moments on screen to view, and during your filming was there something that stood out, a particular moment that became the most memorable moment of the entire filming process?

Nicole Kidman: I liked the dinner scenes, the scenes around the table, I think there is humor in them also. I actually don’t think Evie is evil. I thought she’s just starved for love and she has a child that doesn’t connect with her and Director Park, when we first met, never wanted to be held. And that idea alone, that ever since you held this baby, this baby has never wanted to be held. That’s an amazing way to start building the relationship with a mother and child because that’s horrifying as a mother to think your baby doesn’t want to be held by you. And so I think that’s she’s never, this child that she had just doesn’t connect with her. And so she is always trying, in some way, to connect and even that’s been broken down. She had a much stronger connection with her father, they hunted together, and Evie didn’t like to hunt.  (Stressing) She’s not evil. (Room erupts in laughter).

Mia Wasikowska: India’s not evil. (laughter).

Jonathan Goode:  Is this the memorable? Are we still on the memorable? It was all a joy. But I think, one thing that really sticks out in my mind is when one of the scenes became compromised, due to lack of finance. It was supposed to be by a lake, where we see the burying of my younger brother, and Director Park really rather brilliantly didn’t flap about it and just got on with it and took it in the backyard of the house around the sandpit.

There are so many interesting elements to STOKER, the character driven performances from the incredibly talented cast to the unique film style of Director Park. His cutting edge approach allows the imagination to move through each scene continuing to build on the story.

STOKER  includes scenes of implied and actual violence, bullying, attempted rape and masturbation.

STOKER is a must see!

STOKER is playing in limited release and will open in theaters everywhere March 1, 2013.

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