Surprises have been popping up all over the 50th annual New York Film Festival. Perhaps because it’s celebrating an important semi-centennial milestone and its beloved chairman Richard Peña is stepping down after 25 years, NYFF is pulling in several riches this year. There’s a surprise secret screening on Monday (which could be Fox Searchlight‘s “Hitchcock” if our guess work is right) and last night a small teaser was unveiled of a highly anticipated 2013 film: Park Chan-Wook‘s “Stoker.”
At the conclusion of the gala tribute to Academy-Award winner Nicole Kidman (her latest, “The Paperboy” screened afterwards), Pena and NYFF revealed a small teaser taste of “Stoker,” a Southern-gothic thriller from the director of “Oldboy,” starring Kidman, Mia Wasikowska and Matthew Goode. A picture that could ostensibly go under the title “Blood Ties,” or something like “Family Bonds,” “Stoker” is a horror cum family drama cum psychological thriller about a mysterious and enigmatic uncle (Goode) who unexpectedly rolls into town and moves in with a teenage girl named India (Wasikowsa) and her emotionally unstable mother (Kidman) after the sudden death of a young girl’s father.
The sneak peak was of an intimately unnerving and claustrophobic scene mostly centered on a cold and chilling Kidman slowly and methodically admonishing her daughter (played by Wasikowska). “I’ve often wondered why we have children in the first place,” Kidman’s character says carefully to an unknown person offscreen, the camera unwavering from its close proximity the entire monologue. “And the conclusion I’ve come to is, at some point in our lives we realize things are screwed up beyond repair.”
With a cicada-created dull roar of sound design outside creating an effect of haunting quiet, she continues her methodically calculated speech. “So we decide to start again, wipe the slate clean, start fresh.” she says in a breathy and hushed voice. “And then we have children; little carbon copies that we can say, ‘you can do what I could not. You will succeed where I have failed.’ Because we want someone to get it right this time.”
“But not me,” she says after a long, uncomfortable pause, the camera still strained on her face, refusing to reveal who she’s speaking to. “Personally speaking I can’t wait to watch life tear you apart,” she spits, the camera finally cutting to Wasikowska’s young teenage character enduring her cruel mother’s venomous missive. “India, who are you? You were supposed to love me, weren’t you?” she asks, as the screen goes dark. Noting that Park Chan-Wook, the South Korean filmmaker behind the acclaimed Vengeance Trilogy and “Thirst” didn’t speak a lick of English, Kidman said “Stoker” was still a memorable experience. “He’s a master,” said said. “He speaks not a word of English… which is unusual, but you often related to directors not through words, but a lot of times physicality and thoughts, so in a way, it wasn’t that difficult. But the film itself — he’s meticulous. I love this story, it’s so creepy.”
“He’s a very, very gentle man, but at the same time a very strong and strident filmmaker,” she explained of his dichotomies. “it was a great bookend of doing ‘Paperboy’ and then I went straight into ‘Stoker.’ And that’s what you want as an actor: two very, very different characters after one another.”
Currently playing Grace Kelly in Olivier Dahan’s “Grace of Monaco” alongside Paz Vega, Parker Posey, Tim Roth, Frank Langella and more, the actress actually flew into New York that day and then jumped on a plane back to Paris right after her tribute to continue shooting the picture.
Well-timed, the U.K. trailer for “Stroker” was revealed this morning, and you can watch it below. The picture arrives in theaters March 1, 2013.