Sydney Film Festival - Day 3, Family Relations

The movie of the day is Stoker, a movie from a Hollywood studio, produced by the late Tony Scott and Ridley Scott, starring three Australians and an Englishman, and directed by a Korean.  According to the synopsis, the film is about India's (Mia Wasikowska's) whose father dies in an auto accident. "Her Uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode), who she never knew existed, comes to live with her and her emotionally unstable mother Evelyn (Nicole Kidman). Soon after his arrival, she comes to suspect this mysterious, charming man has ulterior motives, but instead of feeling outrage or horror, this friendless girl becomes increasingly infatuated with him.'

It is a psychological family thriller with macabre overtones and sly humour.  It is beautifully shot, with great performances and the tone harks back to films made by Hitchcock such as Suspicion and Notorious. The set and clothes are inspired by the 1940s and 1950s and there is a great use of music, especially two piano pieces composed by Philip Glass.  There is a great cameo by Jackie Weaver which is a perfect example of how less dialogue can mean so much more in the hands of a great  actor and a director who has the restraint to show rather than tell.  

It is not your typical Hollywood film and thank goodness for that.  It is a lot of fun, and I should imagine it will find a devoted audience, if perhaps a small one.  It is written by Wentworth Miller of Prison Break fame and directed by Park Chan-wook, the South Korean director who made Old Boy and Sympathy for Lady Vengence.  This is his first English speaking film and along with his long time collaborator and cinematographer Chung-hoon Chung, he makes a beautiful film which oscillates between the point of view of a India's heightened sight and sound and a typical third person/viewer point of view.  I really liked it.