Script of the Week: Stoker by Wentworth Miller
I’ve read Stoker twice this year. The first time I was on a plane to Italy.I didn’t know what to make of it. I couldn’t figure out the appeal. To be fair, I did have a few glasses of wine during the reading, which in addition to the jet-lag, might have contributed to my overall state of confusion regarding this script and life in general. However, the script’s weirdness stuck with me and I vowed to read it again.
I did so recently and found a beautifully told coming of age story. One filled with violence and murder. One akin to Stand by Me or other dark visions of lost innocence. Mr. Wentworth is concerned with the experience of maturing as one with tough and almost impossible choices that cannot be put off . The coming of age is the coming of self, and the self we choose to become in that moment (our adolescence) is the self we will be for the rest of our lives. It’s a bit of a depressing vision of growing up but it effectively keeps the stakes high and feeds the script enough tension to keep it interesting.
Stoker tells the tale of Indira Stoker, a strange and solitary girl dealing with the death of her father. Complicating matters are her apathetic and fabulous lush of a mother and an uncle whose visit comes as a surprise to all of them. Charlie, her uncle, brings with him an arsenal of violent intentions and transformative family secrets. No one in his wake will ever be the same.
From the first page Mr. Miller demonstrates that he can do much more than break out of prison (couldn’t help myself). He opens on the image of a spider living inside a piano who is disturbed by the pounding of the keys. The spider makes it’s way out of the piano to explore the source of the intrusion only to meet its squishy, gooey, and violent demise under the foot of Indira Stoker. It is a very telling moment when she, “with no more than a glance”, fails to consider the violence of her action or the death she has just caused. Will she approach her life that way? Is that who she will be? These are the question Mr. Miller poses of his character and he is relentless in pushing her to discover the answers.
It’s a phenomenal piece of writing, really… It’s enhanced by beautiful prose rare in a screenplay and a hell of a lot of personality which Mr. Miller successfully incorporates. The result is a brooding meditation on growing up and I am sure that in the hands of a director like Chan-Wook Park it’s going to make for a very interesting watch.