Awards recognition seems to have eluded Nicole Kidman of late, which has allowed to get on and do some acting. She’s still a big star but her pictures have got smaller.
Destroyer is a case in point. Kidman is great in it, doing something I’ve never seen her do before, playing a grizzled LA detective, shooting guns, snorting coke, chasing people and generally looking washed-up.
Initially the make-up job is distracting but then, like that hooter she wore for her Oscar-winning Virginia Woolf, you get used to it and she glowers into the part.
It makes the various flashbacks to when she was a younger cop going undercover with a bank robbing gang – shades of Point Break, with out the surfing – stand out, her skin bright, her eyes dancing.
Kidman is Erin, and at the start of the film she believes an old foe is back in circulation, Silas. We flashback to when she and another cop, with whom she had to feign a love affair – infiltrated Silas’ gang. And we juggle between the present day, when all her colleagues shun her for dishevelled state and her daughter Shelby is going off the tracks with a wayward new boyfriend.
To be honest, not all of the film works. Director Karyn Kusama gets the look of a bleached-out LA but not the beats of a police procedural and there are too many jolts of credibility for it to be a great film. But there are plenty of decent bits, too and you can’t take your eyes of Kidman’s extraordinary creation of a character here, wondering what’s going on inside, what’s motivating her. There are lots of layers to unravel here, and that’s why the skin on the outside makes her look like an old onion.