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“We don’t need to be friends, we’re family,” Mia Wasikowska’s young India Stoker says to her exceedingly strange uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode) in Park Chan-wook’s fascinating thriller.

It’s just as well. This family really can’t stand each other.Filmmaker Park (who was behind cult flick Oldboy – we worry for the US remake) makes his English language debut with this warring family tale.

Grief, guilt, rape, incest, murder – it delves into the most violent actions and darkest human emotions, and does so with a none-darker sense of humour through the spiky, charged script, penned by Prison Break’s Wentworth Miller.

The story is simple – Nicole Kidman’s widow is falling apart, and embarks on a reproachful relationship with Charlie, the long absent brother to her deceased husband, with Wasikowska the precocious daughter caught in the middle – but it is masterfully told.

Park slots the pieces of the puzzle together superbly, displaying his technical superiority (sterling sound design, composition, recurring motifs) as motivations are revealed, actions concealed and back story unpacked. 

Goode is manipulatively creepy and the largely Aussie cast equally excellent: Jackie Weaver continues to enjoy her latter years career blossom; Wasikowska matures with every performance; and Kidman is reliably superb as the wine-guzzling mater (we can’t remember the last time we saw her smile on screen, though). 

It’s Park’s movie, however – he stamps his much celebrated style on Hollywood in what is a supremely fascinating and unrelenting thriller.

Good for: Seeing that there’s no such thing as happy families.

Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, Matthew Goode | 15 | 98mins | Out March 1 


Stoker film review: Starring Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, Matthew Goode
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