Nicole Kidman’s deft one-two Oscar punch
Actress takes on diverse roles in “Destroyer” and “Boy Erased”
TORONTO – Who is this drunken, sunken-eyed alcoholic on screen?
Audiences will discover a new side of Nicole Kidman in “Destroyer,” one of two films the actress has at the Toronto International Film Festival.
In “Destroyer,” (out Dec. 25) the noir crime thriller that premiered Monday night at the festival, Kidman plays Erin Bell, a brittle, boozy detective who can’t shake a case for which she went undercover more than a decade ago.
Many have compared Kidman’s makeunder to Charlize Theron’s “Monster” transformation. On Monday, director Karyn Kasuma (“Girlfight,” “Jennifer’s Body”) called Kidman the “linchpin of this whole affair.”
“Kidman – a star who is already rightfully celebrated for her intense performances and chameleonic ability to inhabit almost any role – still manages to defy expectations here,” wrote Consequence of Sound’s Sarah Kurchak.
“There’s a scene in DESTROYER where Nicole Kidman stalks down a street carrying a machine gun like Al Pacino in HEAT, and if that doesn’t do it for you, check your pulse,” Slashfilm reporter Chris Evangelista tweeted.
Yes, she wears a ragged brunette wig in the film, but it was hardly the point at the Q&A after the premiere, when Kidman rejected an audience request to rank her wigged looks through the years. “That’s an awful question. I’m shutting that question down,” she said to audience cheers
Meanwhile, Kidman also is in Toronto with “Boy Erased” (in theaters Nov. 2), an emotional film about the effects of gay conversion therapy on an Arkansas teenager named Jared (Lucas Hedges). In the Joel Edgerton-directed drama, Jared comes from a devout family; his father (Russell Crowe) is a Baptist preacher, and his mother (Kidman) initially supports the church’s decision to send Jared to a conversion camp after he comes out.
Which film could send Kidman to the Oscars?
“Kidman likely has an easier track to awards attention here than in her starring vehicle ‘Destroyer,’ a dark and gritty crime drama that’s a tougher sit (and finds her playing a less sympathetic character),” Variety‘s Kristopher Tapley predicts. “Her ‘Boy Erased’ turn is reminiscent of her Oscar-nominated ‘Lion’ work, and for a film that bravely never gets big emotionally, she’s the source of what little of that it allows.”
Brian Tallerico of RogerEbert.com had a different take:
“The better of the two is Karyn Kusama’s brutal ‘Destroyer,’ which basically turns Kidman into a dead woman walking,” he wrote. “With heavy makeup, Kidman has never looked more disheveled. ... She’s a shell of a human being, just biding time until she does something stupid enough to actually die. Her eyes are bloodshot and shallow, and Kidman’s work is transformative.”
Nicole Kidman is a haunted detective in “Destroyer.”