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Creepy but compelling: ‘Stoker’ director connects with actors, audience

February 4th, 2013 Posted in Arts and Life

By Dani Hayes

PARK CITY—Director Chan-Wook Park welcomes us into his dream—or perhaps his nightmare—through his beautifully created film “Stoker,” which premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.

Sundance-2013-LogoSmallThe film’s intricate plot spirals around the concept of interlacing fear and sexuality. A small family suffers the loss of their father, leaving only the mother and teenage daughter. The unsettled death is amplified with the arrival of the deceased’s brother, who comes to the house for an extended period of time.

Uncle Charlie Stoker is played by Matthew Goode. His charm and quiet intrigue ignites a battle of affection between the mother, Evelyn Stoker, played by Nichole Kidman, and daughter India, played by Mia Wasikowska. An already tense mother-daughter relationship is exhausted and eventually broken by the new visitor in their home; for India, her mother has moved on too quickly after her father’s death, especially with her own brother-in-law. The mother feels the immaturity and awkwardness of her daughter grants her superiority over her daughter’s feelings.

stoker-movie-poster-01Eerie realizations follow the movie from beginning to end in Park’s first English-language film. An acclaimed movie director in Korea, “Stoker’s” actors consider it a privilege to work with such a film master, although the process was difficult as Park directed through an interpreter since he doesn’t speak English.

“He was very good at communicating when he obviously has a translator,” Kidman said after the film’s Park City screening. “That was probably the biggest fear.”

“Within the first day that [concern] was gone, because he’s able to communicate very clearly and has such a vivid, strong imagination, obviously very educated and his film knowledge is extraordinary,” Kidman said. “He makes you feel like he has you by the hand and you’re going to be fine. And that’s a wonderful feeling as an actor.”

Wasikowska said she has been a fan of Park’s work for ages.

“It’s been really thrilling to work with someone who has his own vision, which is really rare in modern filmmaking,” she said. “It’s a huge privilege.”

The male star shares his co-stars’ opinions regarding the filmmaking genius incorporated in “Stoker.”

“I want to think how fortunate we were to work with someone, well you can see from what you just saw that he’s a bit of a genius really,” Goode said. “It doesn’t happen every day. And I think, as an Englishman, you’re not thinking you get to work with a Korean master, at least outside of a dojo.”

Park has been compared to Alfred Hitchcock for his unnerving story plots. Taking this compliment humbly, he said the only way he is similar to the legendary filmmaker is his respect toward the actors.

Speaking through an interpreter, Park said, “What I felt was important was spending time with the actors. Find out their thoughts and vision and put it back into the story board.”

The combination between actor/director unity and respect, impressive filmography, startling subject matter and weaving emotions of fear and sexuality make “Stoker” one of the most striking films at this year’s Sundance festival.


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