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Watched: 29 November

Park Chan-wook’s visual style has changed in recent years, and his last two films have featured very shaky, busy camerawork, as if there’s an underlying intention to keep the viewer on edge throughout; it bothered me much more while watching this 2013 English language gothic thriller than it did in last year’s The Handmaiden, and I must admit it was a bit of a shame to be a mere five minutes in and knowing that the jittery visuals were going to preclude me from enjoying the next hour or two. There’s some German Expressionism in there as well, with interior shots within a grand house often set up from a high viewpoint with various diagonals visible within the frame. The running time is just about filled by a sub-Hitchcockian tale, in which the threat posed by a distant, returning family member (Matthew Goode) to 18-year-old India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska) takes one or two interesting psychological and psychosexual twists and turns, but it mostly trundles along listlessly until the final quarter of an hour, in which something dark seems to awaken within India. Nicole Kidman and Jackie Weaver have supporting roles as India’s mother and great aunt respectively, which means that the principal four cast members play Americans despite the fact that three of the actors are Australian and the other one is English. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but it just seems a bit odd to me. Anyway – I just couldn’t get into this film at all. (*½)


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