Friday, June 21, 2013

"Stoker" (2013)

“Stoker” is the most impressively crafted film of the year so far. It is visually stunning, it has a great, creative use of sound and is masterfully directed. It is also supremely disturbing in its philosophical foundation. It is the modern “Shadow of a Doubt”—Hitchcock’s masterpiece of the 40s—reinterpreted for our cynical, nihilistic, hedonistic times. The opening narration, in the voice of 18 year-old India, says it all:

“My ears hear what others cannot hear; small faraway things people cannot normally see are visible to me. These senses are the fruits of a lifetime of longing, longing to be rescued, to be completed. Just as this skirt needs the wind to billow, I'm not formed by things that are of myself alone. I wear my father's belt tied around my mother's blouse, and shoes which are from my uncle. This is me. Just as a flower does not choose its color, we are not responsible for what we have come to be. Only once you realize this do you become free, and to become adult is to become free.”

In the 40s, Hitchcock disturbed audiences by exposing the darker underbelly of puritanical culture. “Stoker” takes place in a time—much like our own—where we know our potential monstrosities. Where it shocks (or, more disturbingly affirms) modern sensibilities is in its claim that the correct response to evil is to embrace it.

India starts out as the counterpart to the niece in “Shadow of a Doubt,” but when that girl discovered her uncle’s dark secret she stopped him and saved the day. India takes another approach, and it isn’t exactly what you may be thinking. The question is, how does one embrace a wholly irresponsible approach to evil in humanity when the outcome is so inevitably bleak?

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