Monday, 23 September 2013


You remember Old Boy, or Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance?  Well if you don’t because you haven’t heard of them you should go and watch them immediately, if you don’t because you don’t like foreign films then you are missing out. You also need a lecture on foreign films by an angry, drunk version of me. Or somebody better spoken than me at least. You’d probably do quite well to understand me when I was sober unless you are from Belfast or have a BabelFish in your ear.

Fortunately the creator of these films (Park Chan-wook) has just done his first English Language feature film called Stoker, and yeah it’s pretty good too. It stars Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode and Nicole Kidman.

On her 18th birthday, a young girl named India loses her father in a car accident quite a distance from their house. This makes her quite sad as you’d expect and she becomes distant from her mother. Her mother, seemingly a gold digging whore, gets over her husbands death quite immediately as her husbands brother moves in bringing snuggling, canoodling and bamboozling with him. There’s something very off about ‘Uncle Charlie’ – his appearance seems to go hand in hand with the disappearance of interfering busybodies and it’s implied pretty heavily that he murdered them.

There seems to be a lot of sexual tension between Uncle Charlie and his dead brothers wife Evelyn, as well as between him and India. Now, incest is played with a lot by Park Chan-wook and shouldn’t be a surprise, but I don’t know whether to be fearful or grossed out when these things happen. There are a lot of Hitchcock references in tone and theme, the relevant one here being the likeable villain, and he is nice and likeable even if he does strike me as being exactly the same as Ozymandius. From the film Watchmen, also played by Matthew Goode, not the Egyptian king.

It also comes to light that India is very unpopular at school despite all the subtle hints at rape the men in her class give her. There’s one guy of course who looks to be a love interest as he is a nice guy. Well not nice, but the kinda guy that would never do a rape on the first date. Anyway eventually after a mildly traumatic moment she goes and meets this guy everything turns a bit sour as it turns out he does do rapes on the first date and then a whole mega plot twist including a very intense shower masturbation/crying scene unfold in front of you like a chocolate orange in an advert. Plot twist isn’t really accurate as Park Chan-wook is the kind of guy that would give you some magic mushrooms and hand you a cigarette not telling you until the mushrooms were starting to wear off that it wasn’t a cigarette and he actually had his cock in your mouth.

The film was very good indeed, very well paced, and about fifty percent less mind-fucky than his usual stuff though this also meant that it wasn’t as visceral or violent as you’d be used to, but very enjoyable nonetheless. It has the feeling of a series of Dexter directed by Alfred Hitchcock if that helps finalise your decision and I think it’ll be re-watched soon just for the subtle things.

I could see it possible being described as a little slow paced or not quite formulaic enough for some people just wanting to chill in front of the television some night with a Pizza, but if you’re alternating between Hummus and chocolate digestives and your girlfriend doesn’t want to watch martial arts films then you won’t be disappointed - even if you reallllly wanted to watch Dragon with Donnie Yen. Aw well, next time.

David Roberts, CeX Ann Street, Belfast

Stoker at CeX

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