The 91st Academy Awards, which took place in February 2019, once again – and unsurprisingly – offered an all-male list of nominees in the Best Director category and unfortunately Karyn Kusama’s latest film Destroyer flew completely under their radar.
Kathryn Bigelow is to date the only woman to have ever won in the Best Director category for her 2008 masterpiece Hurt Locker and this year was no exception with Alfonso Cuarón winning for Roma. While the Oscars may not have recognised Kusama’s masterpiece, we certainly do thanks to a career-defining performance by Nicole Kidman in Destroyer.
Kidman’s Best Role Since To Die For
Arguably her best role since playing Suzanne Stone in Gus van Sant’s 1995 thriller To Die For, Kidman gives an absolutely electrifying performance as Detective Erin Bell in Destroyer.
Described by Kusama as a “woman-against-herself” story, Detective Bell – tortured by events from her past – is forced to confront events which took place 17 years ago, while becoming accountable for her actions in the present.
Deftly portraying the perfect anti-hero, Bell admits “I’m not good” and it quickly becomes apparent just how the past has ravaged both the body and the mind of this once-promising Detective.
Sun Scorched Skin and Parched Lips
Opening with an incredibly dishevelled Bell waking up in her car, Kidman is almost entirely unrecognisable owing to the dramatic reincarnation that has been bestowed upon her – similar to the way in which online betting NZ has transformed the betting landscape.
With mottled sun scorched skin, parched lips complete with stained teeth, ravine-deep bags under her eyes, and a mangy brown-grey crop of hair, Kidman is the picture of an alcohol-addled mess.
With eyes vacant and translucent, the pain on her face is immediately apparent and when Detective Bell descends upon a crime scene, her colleagues impart disdain and advise her to rather leave this one to them.
When the Past Comes Back to Haunt
From there, the story line flips between the past and the present and we learn just why Bell has turned out so catastrophically ruined: 17 years ago she went undercover as part of an FBI sting and things went horribly wrong.
Then, after an ink-stained $100 bill arrives in the mail addressed to her, Bell realises that the ghosts of her past have returned to haunt her and through the possibility of finally settling the score with her long-ago nemesis, Silas, Bell must also deal with significant problems closer to home.
The Genius of Karyn Kusama
While Kidman certainly provides the performance of a lifetime, credit must also be handed to Kusama who up until now has not directed an action-thriller. Since her Sundance favourite Girlfight in 2000, Kusama directed the satirical Jennifer’s Body in 2009 and the psychological thriller The Invitation in 2015.
As Kusama has proved that she’s adept at combining pulp convention with intense character insight, it’s no surprise that Destroyer so expertly gets under the skin of its key players and Kidman portrays her character with such impressive physicality that we will never look at her the same way again. Destroyer is an absolute must-see.