No horror lovers, this is not a Bram Stoker biopic. It's actually a coming of age movie. A very morbid and dark one, that is!

Guess that Hollywood wasn't ready for Chan-wook Park yet. This movie didn't do too well, both financially and critically and I also do admit his movies require a certain taste. This is Chan-wook Park's first English-language film and even though he slightly adjusted his style and storytelling to the generally more accepted and accessible western standards of film-making, it's still a movie with a very unique and distinctive style and atmosphere to it, that you absolutely need to be in the right mood for, as well.

It's definitely a slower type of movie, that also doesn't lay out everything for you. Rather than having a streamlined story and lots of dialog in it, the movie tells its story using its visuals. This also means that the actors are foremost using their bodies and facial expressions to act out their roles. I can see how this could annoy certain people but those who are more willing to put some more effort- and are able to have some patience while watching a movie, should be able to take plenty out of this movie.

Once you start to realize this is a coming of age movie, it's a pretty interesting one to watch. Guess not all people are going to like the movie its tone and atmosphere but not all people are formed out of happiness. The movie has all sorts of underlying themes and story lines in it. Besides being a drama, it's also really a thriller and mystery movie as well. It's an unusual mixture of different ingredients and genres, that works out surprisingly effective.

You can read as much into this movie if you want to. There is no point in telling you that this is what the story is truly about, or this it was this character feels or means and this is what you should be taking out of this movie. It leaves most things up to your own interpretation really, so it's truly something you have to watch and experience for yourself. You may end up not liking it but chances are you at least on some level are still going to feel taken by the movie and some of its themes, as so very often is the greatest strength of any sort of coming of age.

None of it would have worked out as well is it did, if it wasn't for Chan-wook Park's directing. It's an absolutely beautiful and technically impressive directed movie. It's truly a great movie to look at, not just because of its sets and lighting but also due to the way the camera moves around and the movie is edited. There are some truly impressive and powerful shots in this movie. The emotions and tension of the movie often work out due to the way certain things are framed and by the way the camera slowly pans around and the movie keeps cutting back and forth.

I also really liked the performances by all of its actors. It's arguably Mia Wasikowska's best role till date and it's a bit of a shame that it went by mostly unnoticed.

A movie that perhaps requires a certain taste and that also requires you to be in the right mood for it but once you get into it, it's a great, powerful and unique watch! I certainly felt impressed- and taken by it.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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