On the day of her wealthy father’s funeral, pale and solitary 18-year-old India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska) meets her uncle (Matthew Goode).
He’s glamorous and charismatic and, even though India diedn’t even know he existed, her highly strung mother (Nicole Kidman) promptly invites him to stay at the family’s secluded estate.
As India wavers between fascination and suspicion – when Goode commends the garden soil for its spade-yielding softness, you get the feeling he’s not planning to plant begonias – the film builds up an unsettling atmosphere.
In his first English-language film, Korean director Park Chan-wook further stokes up the air of longing and dread with lush colours, rapt close-ups and spine-tingling music (by Clint Mansell, with contributions by Philip Glass).
The languid pace requires patience and the script is a little fanciful, but this stylish and sensual psychological drama keeps you gripped.