Following the tragic death of her father on her eighteenth birthday, India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska) meets Charlie (Matthew Goode), her charismatic uncle, whom she never knew existed. When Charlie moves in with India and her unstable mother (Nicole Kidman), both are drawn to his charming and calming demeanor. But it soon becomes clear that Charlie’s arrival was no coincidence, and that the shocking secrets of his past could affect India’s future…or shatter it completely.
To gear up for the upcoming release of Park Chan-wook’s STOKER on Blu-ray and DVD on June 18 – we’ve compiled some of the most iconic Lolita- esque characters in recent cinematic history. Who’d be your top pick?
The Virgin Suicides – Kirsten Dunst
Part innocent teen, part mysterious seductress, Kirsten Dunst’s portrayal of Lux Lisbon is Sofia Coppola’s directorial debut is all Lolita. At one hand she does fragile teen in the movie so well, writing the name of ‘Trip’ onto her underwear, yet underneath her girly demeanour, a true female seductress lies. She wraps men around her finger, teases, seduces and finally fools her family and the rest of the neighborhood boys into realizing the true extent of their tragic plans.
American Beauty – Mena Suvari
American Beauty tells the story of a suburban father (Kevin Spacey) who snaps when he becomes disgusted with his stale, repetitive existence. He quits his job and begins a regression into young adulthood, lifting weights, smoking pot, doing nothing, and discovering the overflowing sexuality of his 16-year-old daughter’s best friend, Angela (Mena Suvari). Like the film itself, Mena’s performance is at first dark, somewhat comic, clichéd yet intelligent, scandalous, emotional, and without question one of the most seductive teenage performances of all time.
Taxi Driver – Jodie Foster
Jodie Foster made a huge impact in her performance for Martin Scorsese’s iconic Taxi Driver (1976). Playing opposite the equally mesmerising Robert De Niro, the film really hit its stride when Foster’s 12-year-old child prostitute, Iris, steps into Bickle’s cab in an attempt to escape her pimp (Harvey Keitel). It’s no real surprise that Foster was great, as this was already her 33rd role as an actress. At only age 14, she already had more performances than some have in their entire careers.
The astonishing thing at play in her scenes is not even that she holds her own with a titan like De Niro, but that she truly carries herself like a grown up, someone who has lived twice the life of any girl her age. This is not a child actress acting adult-like in an amusing way, but a child conveying the utter loss of childhood. A true Lolita.
Stoker – Mia Wasikowska
In Stoker, Mia Wasikowska plays India, an introspective, peculiar, solitary girl who mourns the recent death of her father whilst being constantly at odds with her mother. She finds herself attracted to her mysterious Uncle Charlie who comes to live with them, following the funeral.
Taking on the role of Lolita, the pair engages in a seductive piano-playing sequence alongside a shower scene that somewhat recalls that scene in Psycho, Wasikowska’s character discovers herself in the shower after witnessing her Uncle dispose of her lecherous classmate. The incestuous relationship between niece and uncle in the film provides much of the picture’s sense of unease, as India becomes more and more drawn to her charismatic relative.
Lolita – Sue Lyon
The film, that started it all. “How could they make a movie out of Lolita?” screamed the print ads to Stanley Kubrick’s 1962 movie. By changing the 12-year-old object of Humbert’s lust into a 15-year-old, that’s how. Selected to portray Vladimir Nabokov’s celebrated nymphet was Sue Lyon, who was 14 when she won the role. The original novel caused no end of scandal by detailing the romance between a middle-aged intellectual and a 12-year-old nymphet.
Lolita is the object of Humbert’s love, a young girl who epitomizes the seductive qualities of the nymphet. Though she seems to like Humbert at first, over time she grows irritated with him and defies his authority. Beautiful, she is also vulgar, crude, and attached to popular culture.
Kick Ass – Chloë Moretz
When Kick-Ass was released in April 2010, everybody left the theater thinking about Hit Girl. Maybe it is a testament to the character and not the performance, but the two should go hand-in-hand. The unbelievable charisma of Chloë Moretz was unmatched by any other actor in the film. And we’re talking about a girl who went toe-to-toe with Nicolas Cage and Mark Strong.
Instead of resorting to the obvious and ultimately awkward sex appeal of a female hero, Moretz went with a mysterious badass persona. Hit Girl is the reason Kick-Ass lives up to its name. The other characters and the movie’s style are enjoyable on multiple levels, but without Moretz’s turn as Hit Girl the film just doesn’t have the electricity it needed. She left the humor up to her Big Daddy (Nic Cage) and kept a straight face the whole way.
Moretz is definitely a force to be reckoned with, reminding us of a young Jodie Foster without the overwhelming sexuality. Moretz was fun to watch in (500) Days of Summer and was even more graceful in Let Me In. However. Hit Girl was her coming-out character and the world will be able to recognize her because of an off-the-charts charisma that no other female youngster can match today.
Leon: The Professional – Natalie Portman
Most of the performances on this list excel because of the maturity of each youngster’s character. Sometimes a role is written that way, while others are the work of a dedicated child actor. Portman’s work in The Professional (a.k.a. Leon) is both.
As the film progresses, her balance of vengeance and progressive maturity is fascinating to watch. The fact she is now in the hands of a quasi-mentally-challenged hired assassin makes her resurgence as a lost soul even more powerful. It truly is all the work of Portman, though; she knew her character backwards and forwards, giving her a realistic quality that bleeds through the screen.
Her face contorts with every emotion, her lust for revenge comes through with an unsuspecting humor and her sex appeal is as uncomfortable as it is realistic. She just fits so snug into this character of Mathilda that it’s hard to tell if she is even acting at times – but there is no doubt she portrayed a character that has experienced something way beyond Portman’s real life.
To enter to win a copy of STOKER on Blu-ray, send your name, mailing address and email address to email@example.com and tell us another film Park Chan-wook has directed. Bonus entries if you share the contest on Facebook with a link back to our Fan Page or Tweet it with an @criticizethis mention. Entries must be received by 9 p.m. on Friday, June 28. Value of the prize is $30CDN. All prizes are randomly selected. Contest is open to residents of Canada over the age of 18 only.
STOKER is available on DVD and Blu-ray June 18.