So many people have sent me that first official clip from Stoker over the past week, a monologue from Queen Kidman, that I figure it's a sign from the cosmos that I've been neglecting my genuflections. (I had had another big Nicole (!) piece planned last week and then they went and snubbed her/spoiled it. And then there was The Hours anniversary and I thought maybe I had Kidmandeered the blog too much. Apparently not!)
Almost every time someone has sent or linked to the clip they've done so with a variation of "OMG!!!" or "all the Oscars for Nicole!" in their text and a quick check of online reactions fall roughly along those lines too. My reaction was more like "..." with a side of "♥"
...which I shall explain alongside the clip and Stoker @ Sundance madness after the jump.
Yes, the great Nicole Kidman is just riveting here. But I'm not ready to throw her another statue just yet. Why? Well, what do we learn from this clip?
Two things and two things only:
1) Nicole is a great actress.
2) Nicole is a great movie star.
When you put the camera on her, we can't look away and we're very very very glad you've put the camera there. Hence: movie star.
As for the actressing... we take the first point on faith because she's proven it many times. But in truth, you can't really tell how great a performance this is from a clip. ("What if this single monologue is totally at odds with the rest of her choices for the character or off synch with the movie" says the devil's advocate)
Who are you?"
I'm increasingly worried that our clip-addled film culture is doing us no good. Are out-of-context scenes and tweet length reviews from afar really any different to the movies than sound-bytes are to the news. They might be correct in what they convey but they still reduce. A lot of people are fully willing to believe they know who deserves to win Oscars each year, solely based on various clips they've seen online without actually seeing the performance in context. I actually worry that our addiction to clip culture is part of the reason Nicole Kidman won more notoriety than Oscar traction for her performance in The Paperboy this year. People wanted to reduce it to "plays a trashy oversexed beautician" "pees on Zac Efron!!!" "does Southern accent" when what was really genius about the performance was the way each scene informed the other (the mark of great character work) and how her reactions in some scenes made absolute sense in the context of the whole but wouldn't be quite in line with what you'd think Charlotte Bless would do/feel unless you'd been paying attention to each clue in each scence. She kept surprising, not by breaking character but by constantly breaking Charlotte down and reassembling from a different angle.
Great line readings are worth shouting about. But building a cohesive fascinating character that is more than the sum of dazzling charisma and/or technique is even more special. (Example: this is part of the reason I didn't use to enthuse over Cate Blanchett as much as most actressexuals. The technique sure was dazzling but I personally didn't always see the fullness of character underneath the "Acting!")
All this thinking aloud will probably lead you to believe that I didn't love this clip but that is not true. I watched it seven times. Don't judge. But in the movie I hope it still plays new.
...for now we know neither what prompted this "why do people have children?" monologue nor why Mama Nicole is so in hate with Daughter Mia Wasikowska. Though, when it comes to the latter, who can blame her? Nicole is acting her ass off and we get two disappointing distracting cuts away to Mia throwing Petulant Shade. Get out of here, Mia!
P.S. What people are saying about Stoker:
- /Film "warped and hollow" [negative]
- Film School Rejects "Park chanwook's prettiest, emptiest film" [negative]
- Collider "may not cut deep, but it slashes hard" [mixed/positive]
- THR "one of the most artful chillers in ages" [positive]
- Fangoria "simultaneously beautiful and frightening" [positive]
- Guardian "a gorgeously mounted family mystery dressed up as a gothic fairytale. " [positive]
- Variety "splendidly demented gumbo of Hitchcock thriller, American Gothic fairy tale and contemporary kink" [very positive]