“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 the 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.”
India’s father recently passed away in a freak accident. Starting from the funeral, Stoker serves to be a dark commentary about life, death, and growing up. The hardest part about becoming an adult is learning to let things be. As children, we’re selfish, we only see what we want, and fail to understand the bigger picture. Sometimes, your father dies. Your mother acts more like your sister than your parent. She will never approve of you. You’re not like other people. These circumstantial conditions are out of your hands, and the sooner you learn to accept it, the sooner you can be happy. The sooner you can be complete.
But what if learning to accept who you are means acknowledging your sinister side? What if, to become the person you were meant to be, you have to proceed through a morbid rite of passage? This is the journey that India must take to become a whole person again, after a part of her has died with her father.
Stoker is a fantastic, well-planned psychological thriller with terrific casting and superb acting. Park Chan-wook proves once again that he is a connoisseur of film, and the best at what he does. This is a tremendous feature that demands attention from the moment the curtain rises, till it falls.
The wake was possibly the best part of the entire film. It’s so honest, by showing the petty underbelly of a loss in the family. People expect you to act a certain way, despite the fact that you’ve had such a trauma. During such a trying time, previously established grudges should cease for a moment, but if anything, they’re exemplified. Gossip abounds, and hovering eyes scrutinize every movement of the victim’s family, waiting for any strange behavior that would warrant judgment. Stoker provided a perfectly illustrated depiction of death, and the events that follow.
At the end of the day, this is a beautifully executed story about growing up. You have to accept who you are to become who you will be. To mature, we must first accept, even if that means accepting that you are a killer.