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Destroyer

Nicole Kidman is astonishing – and almost unrecognisable – as a jaded police detective haunted by her past in Karyn Kusama’s brooding thriller.

Dir Karyn Kusama
Prod Fred Berger, Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi
Scr Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi
With Nicole Kidman, Sebastian Stan, Tatiana Maslany
USA
2018
118min
Sales Rocket Science

As a fledgling cop, LAPD detective Erin Bell (Nicole Kidman) and her partner were placed undercover in the California desert to infiltrate a notorious criminal gang, led by terrifyingly unstable frontman Silas. Still reeling from the trauma of her experience years later, Erin is forced to confront her demons when signs indicate that Silas has re-emerged. Reluctantly delving back into the painful facts of the investigation, she goes in search of the remaining members of his posse, determined to learn Silas’ whereabouts and finally close the case that almost destroyed her. Dripping in sweltering atmosphere and stifling foreboding, this deliciously downbeat detective tale is arguably Karyn Kusama’s most exquisitely realised and accomplished film yet, recalling the sunlit exteriors of hardboiled Californian crime classics such as Chinatown and To Live and Die in LA. But unlike the testosterone-fuelled drive of those films, Destroyer is a distinctly female story, once again proving Kusama’s commitment to placing women at the centre of genre narratives, as demonstrated in such diverse work as Æon Flux and Jennifer’s Body. And this time around, Kusama finds abundant support from Kidman, whose thrillingly uninhibited performance further showcases her intrinsic ability to truly lose herself in a character, both physically and emotionally.

Michael Blyth

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