Saturday, March 16, 2013

sensually sinister

In their enthusiastic reviews of Park Chan-wook's "Stoker," more than one critic has alluded to the film's Hitchcockian connection.

But without being specific.

The Hitchcock film quoted here is "Shadow of a Doubt."

In his variation, Park, a visual master beyond compare, takes the skeletal narrative of Hitchcock's 1943 film (Hitch's personal favorite) - a young woman's uneasy relationship with her uncle - and fuses it with his trademark painterly touches.

Not unexpectedly, "Stoker" is lush and lurid.

Joseph Cotten's Uncle Charlie becomes Matthew Goode's Uncle Charles. (Goode is effortlessly, playfully sinister here.) Mia Wasikowska takes on the Teresa Wright role of the niece who comes to realize that there's more to the odd behavior exhibited by her mysterious uncle. Nicole Kidman plays her frosty, peculiar mother (and Uncle Charles' sister-in-law) and there are choice cameo bits by Jacki Weaver, Dermot Mulroney, Harmony Korine, Alden Ehrenreich and Phyllis Somerville.

And C. Michael Andrews' clever titles design does Saul Bass proud.

"Stoker" is not necessarily "Shadow of a Doubt's" exact twin - it is more sensual and way broader in its chills - but, one day, the two will make an interesting double-bill to compare and contrast.


nic said...

Thanks for making the comparison. But, as you say, they are not exact twins. I think Park's negativity hampers "Stoker." Mia's India suffers from severe oppression while Theresa's character did not. Perhaps that's what makes "Stoker" more gripping than "Shadow of a Doubt" - for me.

Rosemary L. said...

"Stoker" was a little too odd ball for me. I prefer the straightforward "Shadow of a Doubt" which was, for me, more honest and true to life.

This relationship of India with her uncle was sick. When she didn't turn him in to the police after finding the housekeeper - well, that did it for me.