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Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode

Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode

“STOKER” My rating: B- (Opens March 22 at the Glenwood Arts and Tivoli)

99 minutes | MPAA rating: R

“Stoker” represents an extraordinary level of film craftsmanship.

Every shot, every color choice, every cut and transition, the soundtrack – even  the opening credits –suggest an almost obsessive determination to get all the details exactly right. On so many levels the movie is breathtaking.

Given this, why isn’t Korean director Park Chan-wook‘s first English-language film more satisfying?

I think it’s because in trying to give us a classic Hitchcock-style suspense film he (and his writer, the actor Wentworth Miller) has in fact given us a somewhat academic deconstruction of a Hitchcock-style suspense film.

Big difference.

 If you’re looking for thesis material “Stoker” is chock full of allusions, references and outright steals.

But for genuine suspense, go elsewhere.  Unlike Hitch, Park (whose best-known film in this country is probably the incest-and-savagery epic “Old Boy”) doesn’t allow us to identify with his characters. They might as well be specimens of exotic insects in glass jars.

Our heroine is high school senior India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska), whom we meet at the funeral of her beloved father, who has died in some sort of fiery car crash.

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