Directed by Chan-wook Park
Written by Wentworth Miller and Erin Cressida Wilson
South Korean director Park Chan-wook’s first cinematic foray with the English language is a gratifyingly morbid journey, albeit frustratingly simple in its conclusion. The man behind “The Vengeance Trilogy” (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy, Lady Vengeance) doesn’t deliver the level of graphic gore or sadism one might anticipate from him. Chan-wook instead successfully presents us with a meticulously detailed and scintillatingly gothic atmosphere rife with bloodthirsty possibilities. Cinephiles looking for the daringness of the master’s earlier works will likely be disappointed that this provocative project about a morose young woman disturbingly coming of age ends up leaving much to the imagination.
Right before turning 18, intense India (Mia Wasikowska of Burton’s Alice in Wonderland) loses her beloved father to a mysterious accident. Enter Uncle Charlie, her father’s long lost brother. Her mother Evie (Nicole Kidman) gives him an eerily enthusiastic welcome in the midst of bereavement and pays little to no attention to her grieving child. Charlie’s mannered and assertive presence beguiles Evie and intrigues India. Although absent for the entirety of India’s life, he immediately charms his way into living in the family house. Actor Matthew Goode (Watchmen, Brideshead Revisited) is darkly enigmatic as Uncle Charlie- drawing the audience, India and Evie in with his sphinx like stare. The unpredictable Goode holds his own next to Kidman, whose multi-faceted performance is best when her character feels slighted. This film isn’t concerned with us liking or sympathizing with any of the leads but directs us to deciphering what their individual motivations are for behaving badly.
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