Saturday, 2 March 2013

REVIEW - STOKER


There are parts of Stoker that I could gorge on. Guilty pleasures in specific scenes and images, where Park Chan-Wook's enthusiastic direction is let loose, and he tears the whole thing up, with a grand abandon. His signature offbeat style has been re-interpreted here into one that allows him to revel in these moments with great verve, in a way that is new to him. But it is also more precious, and its superfluity through the film is distracting. There comes a point, though, when I began to appreciate it. Wentworth Miller's script has no space for subtlety, but it is at this point that this is no longer its biggest issue. This new issue is best summarised by one word: 'why'? Stoker is a mystery, all tantalising hints and questions, although many of them are most adequately signposted in one form or another, diminishing much potential surprise. Miller's stab at unravelling the mystery is so extraordinarily incompetent that the film falls apart there and then, every seam coming immediately loose at the slightest touch. Existing little niggles all assemble alongside newer, larger ones, and form an itchy big rash on Stoker's pristine facade. But there remain those guilty pleasures - the acrid colour scheme (shamelessly on-the-nose), the riotous sound design, the playful opening credits (Park plays with cinematic conventions regularly - they're parts of his filmmaking fabric, and he's hardly aiming for realism), Nicole Kidman's deliciously garish ham, almost Joan Crawford-esque, the botox gradually being purged from her face, and Alden Ehrenreich, who turns a perfunctory character into a sex god. Actually, Alden Ehrenreich could turn Frankenstein into a sex god, but never mind...