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Stoker

Directed by Park Chan-Wook

USA, 2013

Cornerhouse, 2 March 2013

Stoker

The film is an intriguing reworking of Shadow of a Doubt, Hitchcock’s classic study of an uncle and niece who share a special understanding.

There’s a girl, India, who is being bullied and harassed by the boys in her high school.  They see her as an ice-maiden: cold, frigid, unlovely.  But a challenge too.

Now her charismatic Uncle Charlie arrives on the scene and she slowly comes out of her shell, revealing herself as a cat among pigeons, a wolf amidst sheep.  In cinema, sociopathology works according to the laws of Mendelian genetics: it may skip a generation or two, or be absent in some siblings, but it will always surface somewhere.  ‘Sometimes you have to do something bad to stop yourself doing something worse.’  That’s what her father tells India one time, and it’s as close as the film comes to a moral imperative.  She takes it to heart, naturally.

It’s a stylish thriller, Mia Wasikowska is wonderful, but at the end you’re aware of a woeful lack of substance.

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