Destroyer, from director Karyn Kusama (Jennifer’s Body, Girlfight), ses Nicole Kidman play LA detective Erin Bell in dual timelines – as an aged, hardened cop searching for a killer, and as a fresh-faced undercover agent, eager to bust some bad guys. The time frames are expertly arranged to cause present-day Bell to experience a traumatic reckoning with her past self.
In this Golden Globe-nominated performance, you might have to look twice to be convinced it’s really our Nic up there. But while Kidman’s face and physicality transform for each stage of Bell’s life, there is no doubting the actor’s depth and skill, both on full display here.
In episode 88 of SBS movies and TV culture podcast The Playlist, co-host Fiona interviews director Karyn Kusama, who says she had faith in Kidman’s willingness to dive into unchartered waters for this incredibly demanding role. She says Kidman was ideal to take on Bell, being “attuned to the question of shame and regret and guilt, and what that can do to poison a mind and body if you don’t deal with it”.
Kusama also discusses her approach to depicting violence in the movie, and takes stock of her two-decade career, from the highs of directing Girlfight, to recovering from the backlash of studio films that didn't fire, Aeon Flux and Jennifer's Body. The director, whose filmography is the very definition of films with a 'strong female lead' has fascinating observations.
Listen to the episode here: