TIFF Exclusive – Destroyer Review

Our guest writer/correspondence John H Foote writes from TIFF18, about Nicole Kidman starrer – Destroyer.

Nicole Kidman looks rancid, mouldy as the tough detective in ‘Destroyer’. Never before has the actress allowed herself to look so rough for a film, it is as though she is rotting from the inside out, the corruption attached to her very soul. Her skin is sallow, blotchy, her teeth yellow and dark, she is skinny, sinewy, her eyes dead, bloodshot filled with self-loathing. She is lost and knows it, living with the past, a past she cannot let go of or escape. It is a bold impressive performance absolutely free of vanity as she disappears under the skin of her character to go as far into a role as she ever has, and she has been mighty good before. Kidman has shone in films such as ‘To Die For’ (1996), ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ (1999), ‘Moulin Rouge!’ (2001), ‘The Others’ (2001), ‘The Hours’ (2002) for which she won the Academy Award, ‘Cold Mountain’ (2003), ‘Birth’ (2004), ‘Fur’ (2006), ‘The Paperboy’ (2012) and most recently in ‘The Beguiled’ (2017), but nothing will prepare you for what she does here. It is though Kidman ceased to exist and this character has taken over her body.

When she discovers a vicious killer is back in business, she tracks down a group of criminals she knew while undercover, hoping they can lead her to them. Her superiors know she is a drunk and drug addict, her daughter hates her, her ex-lover does not understand her, her partner worries for her, and the criminals she tracks down fear her. When she goes to visit a wealthy lawyer protecting a crook, it turns ugly fast with Kidman on the ground writhing in pain, vomiting, but she quickly turns it around and beats the bodyguard and the lawyer, displaying extraordinary tenacity. When she figures out what the criminals are up too, she arms herself with an automatic rifle, storms into the bank and starts firing. It is astonishing to see Kidman doing this because it is unlike anything she has ever done before and yet she looks right at home. Her cop is intensely focused. a rogue and dangerous because as she says she has nothing to lose.
Surrounded by fine character actors, Tatiana Maslany shines as a wealthy girl tied up with gang unable to get out, and realizing the long past time to do anything about it. Maslany is a hugely gifted actress who I suspect, we will see Oscar night one night. Bradley Whitford is superb as a sleazy, smug lawyer who works with criminals and is proud of it.
As good as they are, the film belongs to Kidman who could and should be heard from come Oscar time. The film has some self-indulgent moments, slow-motion sequences that do not need to be so, but overall it is a first-rate entertainment, however dark and nasty. These are not the sort of people you want to spend much time with, they are repellant…but damn, you cannot take your eyes off Kidman!
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The Cinemawala Rating: 3/5

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John H. Foote is among the best-known film critics in Canada and has been active as a critic for thirty years.
His career began as co-host, co-producer of the popular movie talk and review program Reel to Real. He left the show after ten years for his first love, print criticism, he longed to write about movies. For two years he wrote for Toronto Life and Fashion Magazine, his work quote in the LA and New York Times, as well as major papers across North America. He was offered a position writing for the internet and has since written for incontention.com, thewrap.com, screenrant.com, awardscircuit.com and most recently thecinemaholic.com. In May 2018 he started his own site Footeandfriendsonfilm.com, which has enjoyed great success its first few months.
Foote was also involved in film education teaching film history and film genre at Trebas Institute before leaving to be Dean of the Toronto Film School, where he also taught film history and continued his work as a critic.
Foote has written two books, “Clint Eastwood: Evolution of a Filmmaker”, and “Spielberg: American Film Visionary” (due in 2019). His third, “American Cinema in the Seventies” is due for release in 2020.
Through his career, he has interviewed everyone in the business except Jack Nicholson!

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