Stoker

The director of Oldboy is making his US debut with Stoker, and thus the film is sure to be one of the most examined of Sundance. The first reviews are beginning to surface and they are ranging wildly, with some calling it the “worst of the festival” and others loving it madly.

A well-timed trailer has broken out via Empire, and the manic look at the film is definitely interesting.

After India’s father dies, her Uncle Charlie, who she never knew existed, comes to live with her and her unstable mother. She comes to suspect this mysterious, charming man has ulterior motives and becomes increasingly infatuated with him.

The film stars Nicole Kidman, Jackie Weaver, Mia Wasikowska, Jackie Weaver, Dermot Mulroney, Matthew Goode, and Lucas Tille.

I think the swing of the reactions are best summed up by the spoiler-free thoughts of both the hateful Indiewire review…

“…all [Chan-wook's] worst tendencies for the histrionic and overly operatic are on utterly garish display in the overwrought and tonally poisoned “Stoker.” There’s myriad problems evinced within the picture, starting with a familiar and often painful script by Wentworth Miller that holds no mystery, suspense or surprise (or at least that’s how it’s constructed on screen, which is odd for a thriller). Stylized to death, “Stoker” is so hermetically sealed and clinical in its visual presentation that it sucks what little life it possesses out of the room with the repeated violent woosh of unnecessary swish pans. Worse, the movie carries plenty of random and absurd nonsense that doesn’t seem to fit.”

…and the wildly positive Variety take:

“When South Korean genre iconoclast Park Chan-wook decided to bring his peculiar gifts to a Stateside production, anything could have happened – and anything pretty much does in “Stoker,” a splendidly demented gumbo of Hitchcock thriller, American Gothic fairy tale and a contemporary kink all Park’s own. Led by a brilliant Mia Wasikowska as an introverted teenager whose personal and sexual awakening arrives with the unraveling of a macabre family mystery, this exquisitely designed and scored pic will bewilder as many viewers as it bewitches, making ancillary immortality a safer bet than “Black Swan”-style crossover biz for Fox Searchlight’s marvelously mad March hare.”

This is one most of us will undoubtedly want to make up our own minds about. The film is set for a limited release beginning March 1st.