Stoker: A Future Without Screenwriters

 

I am disoriented and can not possibly sleep yet. What a difference between watching a film near the end of its long, accomplished theatrical run (“Zero Dark Thirty” on Monday) and catching one that’s been in theaters for a day and gotten a hot and cold reception. That was “Stoker” tonight.

I got the feeling, during much of it, that I was watching one of the great young actresses of cinema, Mia Wasikowska, getting sexually violated. Halfway through what seemed like an awful movie, the dime store Freudianism, garish emotions, and straight up misogyny got so ridiculous we literally screeched with laughter, and I started wondering whether I was missing something subversive – obviously, I must have been, right?

Wrong! Andrew O’Hehir at Salon is one of my favorite critics, not least because he knows that there is a time to call bullshit, and he called it on this film. “Each of these characters seems freakish and disconnected, both from each other and from any actual or fictional vision of reality,” he writes.

He even supposes that the Korean director, critics’ darling Park Chan-wook, might not have understood the English script by Wentworth Miller, but I see the opposite dynamic at work.  This is one of those films that’s all about the director, and Park found a no-name screenwriter whose first draft could be hi-jacked, and who’d dutifully keep plugging lousy dialogue into the most laughable plot developments he might insist on. Watching “Stoker” is like looking at a future without screenwriters. One fantastic shot after another creating all their intended poetic inflections, and none of it offering any feeling whatsoever.

Comments

  1. Sean Sutherland says:

    I like the commentary Charlie. The trailer
    looks suspect at best. Thanks for saving me the time!

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