Stoker ★★★★★

When it comes to Stoker there's a lot to talk about and to analyse, be it in relation to Park's other movies or on its own but ultimately that one thing that stood out for me the most – what makes it so special for me – among the many things I like about the movie is the piano scene. While rewatching Stoker I wonder every time if the scene is really as intense as I remember it to be – and every time it hits me again as if I were watching it for the first time. All of Park's movies have these moments that leave you gasping for breath but I honestly can't think of a single scene – neither in his nor in any other movies – that is more electrifying than this one. Even detached from the previous events the scene radiates such a strong energy from the moment India plays the first note. When Charlie appears the dynamics almost immediately start to shift and after they spend a short while playing together they start fighting for dominance, constantly trying to excel each other in their playing. It's fascinating to see them both react to this, how easy it is for Charlie to manipulate and seduce India with the music and how much their duet affects her to a point where it's impossible for her to tell whether it was real or not. I sometimes jokingly say that the piano scene is my favourite sex scene and watching it again I have to say it's true. Even though there is hardly any physical contact between them in this scene that feels way longer than it actually is there so much sexual tension between India and Charlie to the point where I – like India – need a moment to collect myself afterwards. I can't think of any other scene that comes close to this one.

It's been a while since the last time I watched Stoker and I'm genuinely surprised that it still gets better every time I watch it, especially considering since the last time I watched The Handmaiden several times and I've been starting to wonder if the latter might be Park's masterpiece but no, considering how perfect every little detail of this movie is and how well everything comes together to a point where the flaws of the script that some people have pointed out don't matter at all I have to say that this is still unrivalled. Not that there can only be one masterpiece, the more the better. I guess what I'm trying to say here is that I really want to watch all of his female-centric movies now because his female characters are generally pretty great.

Speaking of female characters, another aspect I love about the movie is the complicated relationship between India and Evelyn and how they both use Charlie in their power game. There's a lot of passive-aggressiveness between mother and daughter but ultimately two scenes in third act is enough to sum up their relationship. First there's Evelyn's "I cannot wait to watch life tear you apart" monologue about how she is not like other people who hope that their children might not make the same mistakes they made, showing her full disappointment over her daughter's rejection, and then right afterwards the confrontation between Evelyn and Charlie where she is ready to sacrifice herself for India because even if she didn't want to admit it, she is like those other people, she knew she was gonna spend the rest of her life in this house but there was still a chance for India to have a different life, although the person India had turned into over the course of the movie is quite different from the daughter Evelyn wanted her to be and pretty close to her worst fear.

Vanessa liked these reviews