Richard Brody (The New Yorker) on Chan-wook’s ‘Stoker’

 

I have not seen the film yet but this is an exceptionally well-written piece. A certain Chan-wook fan on the blog had promised to me that she would she would write something on it (though she can educate us on the first paragraph, or more specifically the first sentence, of this article.)- regrettably she has not even seen it till now (probably because she is deeply saddened by the news that Josh Brolin is going to do a number on his Korean counterpart in the Spike Lee directed remake of Chan-wook’s Oldboy!).

 

“Stoker”: The Fears and Fantasies of Everyteen

 

mia-wasikowska-stoker-465

 

Posted by Richard Brody

March 5, 2013

LINK

“The proper translation for Freud’s 1909 coinage “Familienroman,” or “family romance”—regarding the child’s liberation fantasy of “the replacement of both parents or of the father alone by grander people”—is actually the “family novel,” and there’s something agreeably, engagingly novelistic about “Stoker,” the South Korean director Park Chan-wook’s incursion into a cushy corner of Connecticut and the tangled-up desires, dreams, memories, and impulses of one long-deluded teen-age girl, India Stoker (played by Mia Wasikowska). What the movie most resembles is a young-adult novel, of the sort that was the subject of controversy a couple of years ago for being “too dark.” For all the movie’s melodramatic twists, hyperbolic doings, and posh surroundings, its substance is very much the fears and fantasies and family loam of Everyteen (in particular, of familiar media versions of teen-age girls).

It starts out as a variation on a theme by Alfred Hitchcock—that of “Shadow of a Doubt” and the arrival of the mysterious, glamorous, seductive, long-absent Uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode). But where Hitchcock brings the uncle into a stable home that he then sets on its ear, Park and the screenwriter Wentworth Miller (with contributions by Erin Cressida Wilson) catch the family at a moment of utter vulnerability: India has just lost her father (Dermot Mulroney), with whom she was very close. Charlie, whom she had never met, finally shows up at the sumptuous and isolated family estate and ingratiates himself, rapidly and pressingly, with his brother’s widow (Nicole Kidman).

Things are quickly revealed to be even worse than they seem, as Charlie takes decisive steps to edge out of the picture anyone—the longtime housekeeper, an elderly great-aunt (Jacki Weaver)—who comes to doubt his motives. At first, it appears as if he covets both his brother’s wife and her fortune, and India becomes suspicious as well—but she also seems flickeringly jealous, and, where the young woman in Hitchcock kept her incestuous fantasies tightly contained, India avows them with a full-throated ecstasy (achieved, as it were, with yet another Hitchcockian touch). Yet the violence to which Uncle Charlie sinks is doubled by India’s own rough, physical response to a bullying classmate’s crude aggression. It’s hard to avoid spoilers at this point, but let’s leave it at this: India discovers that her parents have been concealing something very important regarding her uncle—and, given her emotionally close relationship with him, something very important about herself, about character traits that are a part of her own blood. When the truth comes out, her world is overturned, her monsters are unleashed, and she finds herself without the solid footing of character, self-knowledge, and moral clarity to fight them”…..

 

Read more HERE