It was really strange to see Nicole Kidman ‘dressed down’ in the film Destroyer. It reminded me of Charlize Theron in the 2003 Monster for which Theron won an Oscar. Kidman and Theron are both beautiful women who have to be made up to look ugly. (Most of us I think need to be made up to look beautiful!) There is the notion that playing gritty roles like those in Monster and Destroyer shows how serious these actresses are. That they be judged on the merit of their acting and not just the appeal of their faces. Much like Harry Potter author J K Rowling writing under the nom de plume Robert Galbraith, with the idea that she be praised for her writing rather than her former fame.
Kidman’s character in Destroyer wore manly clothes that hung on her thin frame. Her short, brown shaggy hair was annoying. And her skin was full of pigmentation. The only thing the make-up artists didn’t do was cover up Kidman’s bright blue eyes.
Kidman does a good job of portraying sad, desperate, hardened cop Erin Bell who has a past. Bell is by no means a one-dimensional character, something that comes to light as the woman’s history is slowly revealed in the movie through flashbacks. There is a good twist right at the end that makes the plot believable. Despite her hard exterior Bell is actually motivated by love – both romantic and filial. Unfortunately, this incentive, undermines the plausibility of the story.
Destroyer is currently showing at cinemas in South Africa.
In Genius Colin Firth plays the self-controlled American, Max Perkins, who was editor at Scribner when Thomas Wolfe, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway wrote their first books. A man of few words, Perkins’s time is taken up in this story largely with Thomas Wolfe, a self-absorbed, insecure and immature – but potentially brilliant – writer. Jude Law takes the part of Wolfe, and captures well the writer’s frenzied, selfish ways. Nicole Kidman acts as Wolfe’s slightly unhinged common-law wife, Aline Bernstein, whose astute human insights are unbalanced by her very public and confrontational relationship with the writer. Max’s wife, Louise Perkins (played by Laura Linney), and mother to the couple’s five daughters, is contrasted with the caustic Aline, not so much because of Louise’s less volatile character, but because of her and Max’s more mature and value-rich marriage.
The friendship that develops between Max and Thomas during the publication of Thomas’s first book is interesting to watch – from dependence, to mutual passion, to obsession, hurt and distance, to forgiveness and growth. It is this, and the relationships already mentioned, that form the basis of this absorbing period film. Focusing on the human aspect and on values against the literary backdrop captured my attention. And, like its subject matter, the film runs as a complete story, with tension build up, denouement and conclusion. Very satisfying indeed.
Genius opens in cinemas in South Africa on 15 July 2016.