Stoking the fire of Mia’s rising star
STOKER cements the idea that Aussie star Mia Wasikowska is turning out to be one of our country’s most accomplished young actresses. The Canberra-born former ballet dancer has been in blockbusters (Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland), indies ( The Kids Are All Right) and adaptations ( Jane Eyre), played a cancer patient ( Restless), and appeared in period pieces created by both international and Australian filmmakers ( Albert Nobbs and Lawless). Now with Stoker, the 23-year-old has added another notch to her belt, starring in acclaimed Korean director Park Chan-wook’s first Englishlanguage film. Penned originally by Prison Break’s Wentworth Miller, the dark psychological thriller also stars seasoned Aussie actors Nicole Kidman and Jacki Weaver. But it’s Wasikowska as Kidman’s unsociable onscreen daughter India, and her performance alongside a truly creepy Matthew Goode as her mysterious uncle Charlie, that really gets under your skin and makes it crawl. That, as well as Park’s unique eye and his detailed use of sound and gorgeous imagery make Stoker an absorbing thriller – one that terrifies and fascinates, addressing the nature vs nurture debate from a sheltered teenager’s perspective. The slow pace may irk some, but for others, it will just keep you yearning for what happens next, after India’s father suddenly dies and her uncle comes to stay with her and her desperate-for-attention, flaky mother Evelyn (Kidman). Even if you think you know where the film is heading, you’re never quite certain if it will throw you a curveball. None of the characters are particularly likeable, save for a brief appearance by India’s aunt Gwendolyn, played by Weaver. But you tend to be torn in your feelings for them, thanks to layered performances, and they’re no doubt as intriguing as they are unsettling. It’s also particularly nice to see three generations of accomplished Australian actresses on the screen together. Regardless if you’re a fan of Park’s previous work on Korean films like Oldboy, Stoker is a slow-burn, chilling tale that will haunt you for days.
Stoker opens today.
– CARIS BIZZACA
Mia Wasikowska is a standout in the psychological thriller