There have been many comparisons of Wentworth Miller's writing debut to the old films of the Hitchcock era. From the elements of suspense and psychological games to the vintage and classic style that transports you into the world of a broken family, it's hard not to become a voyeur in this strange and intriguing microcosm created by the incredibly talented Director, Park Chan-Wook.
From the moment we're introduced to the Stokers, we know that there's more than meets the eye. Although the story is set in the present day, the family's clothes, cars and home have been chosen to isolate them from the outside world. Moreover, every action and reaction is filled with intense, raw, instinctual and yet calculated emotion. Costume Designers, Kurt Swanson and Bart Mueller obviously understand this because the clothes are just as much a manifestation of those strong emotions. India's coming-of-age story for example, is beautifully mirrored in her transition from her ill-fitting saddle oxfords to finally coming into her own in some deadly crocodile stilettos with blood red soles.
Swanson and Mueller also portray the power struggle between mother and daughter (another Hitchcockian theme) in an interesting way. When we first meet India and Evie, India's wardrobe fluctuates between buttoned up 50s style blouses and dresses in very neutral tones. It's her way of refusing to bend to what her mother wants for her. Evie on the other hand is full of repressed sexuality. At her husbands funeral, her fitted black dress is restrictive yet sensual --it hugs every inch of her body. With the arrival of the mysterious Uncle Charlie, the power begins to shift in India's favor and the younger Stoker finally starts to embrace who she is mentally, physically and sexually --something that makes her stronger and scares her mother to death. As India blooms, her style becomes more refined, elegant and sensual while Evie's desperation starts to come through in her choice of clothes.
Speaking of the handsome, calculated and not to mention dangerous Uncle Charlie, Matthew Goode's dapper portrayal and style on screen is very much reminiscent of Cary Grant in the 50s. Uncle Charlie's cool and always calm demeanor coupled with his classic American style are perfect deflectors from the dangerous and unstable man that lurks just below the surface.
What the story of the Stokers stirs up in most of us is the feeling that everyone has something to hide. Whether it's a young girl who shields her dark thoughts from the public with clothes that portray innocence or a man who has embraced his dark side but uses material things to create an image of normalcy and perfection --we all have tools that help us mask our fears, insecurities and who we really are. The danger comes when someone decides to look under that shell we've so diligently created.
Stoker, brought to you by Fox Searchlight Pictures in association with Indian Paintbrush is in theaters now. You can watch the trailer below.