The Films of Chan-wook Park
Moon is the Sun's Dream
Joint Security Area
Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance
Old Boy & Sympathy for Lady Vengeance
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I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK
Stoker (January 3/14)
Chan-wook Park's English-language debut, Stoker follows Mia Wasikowska's India Stoker as she attempts to cope with her father's sudden demise (Dermot Mulroney's Richard) and the subsequent arrival of a mysterious relative (Matthew Goode's Charles). Park, working from a script by Wentworth Miller, has infused Stoker with an almost excessively deliberate pace that holds the viewer at arm's length right from the get-go, with the inordinately uninvolving atmosphere compounded by Park's sterile visual sensibilities and a complete lack of engaging characters. (Wasikowska's one-note, emotionless performance certainly stands as an apt example of the latter.) It is, as a result, not surprising to note that Park's efforts at establishing (and sustaining) an aura of ominous dread and foreboding fall hopelessly flat, which, in turn, ensures that Stoker is absolutely devoid of anything even resembling suspense or tension - with the less-than-engrossing vibe perpetuated by scripter Wentworth's continued emphasis on is-it-real-or-just-a-dream-type moments (ie the gimmick makes it awfully difficult to discern just what's occurred during several key moments). And although the movie benefits from the inclusion of a few admittedly striking sequences (eg India successfully takes down a school bully), Stoker isn't, as it inevitably transforms into a full-bore thriller, able to make the visceral impact that Park is clearly aiming for - with the viewer's complete ambivalence towards the one-dimensional characters playing a key role in the film's downfall. The style-over-substance atmosphere ultimately confirms Stoker's place as a disappointingly empty piece of work, with the movie's failure especially disappointing given the potential of both the premise and Park's previous endeavors.