On the day of her wealthy father’s funeral, pale and solitary 18-year-old India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska) meets her glamorous and charismatic uncle (Matthew Goode), a man she had no idea 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.