Academy Award-winning actress and producer Nicole Kidman is no stranger to playing complicated women.
From her Emmy-winning role in HBO’s “Big Little Lies” as Celeste, who struggles to break free from an abusive marriage, to her role as the tortured and deeply private Virginia Woolf in “The Hours,” Kidman has definitely shown her emotional range as an artist.
And yet Kidman’s upcoming role in “Destroyer,” a crime thriller film set for a theatrical release on Dec. 25, may show a side of her moviegoers haven’t yet seen.
In his review of the film, Peter Debruge of Variety said, “Nothing [Kidman] has done in her career can prepare you for ‘Destroyer.’”
“Kidman has always been a chameleon,” Debruge said, “but in this case, she doesn’t merely change her color (or don a fake nose, à la ‘The Hours’); she disappears into an entirely new skin, rearranging her insides to fit the character’s tough hide.”
The main character of the film, Erin Bell, is a detective traumatized by an undercover sting operation gone horribly awry in her past. She returns years after the event to bring down a criminal gang and put her inner demons to rest.
Though Kidman seems simply to be occupying the well-known “grizzled anti-hero cop” role often filled by male actors, Consequence of Sound’s Sarah Kurchak said, “‘Destroyer’ is far more intriguing than a simple exercise in role reversal.”
Perhaps the fact that the film is helmed by a female director, Karyn Kusama — director of the groundbreaking 2000 film “Girlfight” and the 2009 cult classic “Jennifer’s Body” — may account for the level of nuance brought to a familiar cinematic genre.
Bryan Bishop of the Verge said that Kusama has a “fearless creative vision,” and added that, as a female director in Hollywood, she’s had to fight harder than her male counterparts to fully assert that vision in her films.
Despite the barriers, lately female directors have been rising to prominence, such as Patty Jenkins (2017’s “Wonder Woman”), Ava DuVernay (2014’s “Selma”), Greta Gerwig (2017’s “Lady Bird”), and several others in the past decade.
Filmmakers such as Kusama and Gerwig have brought to the silver screen, along with their originality, complex and compelling female roles.
Jenkins didn’t just show us a powerful female superhero in “Wonder Woman,” but someone driven by compassion in a time of unchecked cruelty.
In “Lady Bird,” Gerwig explores a young female protagonist wrestling with self-identity and the character’s relationship with an opinionated and equally complex mother.
Though Hollywood has yet to offer a completely welcoming platform for women’s voices and stories, there are definite signs of improvement in the industry.