Five reasons to see ‘Destroyer’

January 22, 2019



Kidman stars as a disgraced police detective in “Destroyer.”

The moviegoing scene is pretty cluttered as of late with all of the holdovers from the holiday season, the award’s race and the new wave of thrillers and romances that January and February usually deliver. Smaller movies can have trouble and fall through the cracks, but there’s one movie that this should not happen to: Karyn Kusama’s gritty police thriller “Destroyer.” Nicole Kidman stars as aged and disgraced Detective Erin Bell, who falls back into an unsolved case involving a cult that ruined her life decades before. It’s now playing in theaters everywhere. Here’s five reasons you should give this film a chance.

1. It’s a blend of arthouse styles and mainstream crime drama sensibilities.

With every passing year, I feel that we see the line between mainstream and arthouse blur a bit. With “Destroyer,” it might seem that on the surface it’s a “CSI”-esque procedural with all the police jargon, shootouts and stern one-liners but thanks to the form at hand, it becomes so much more than that. Director Karyn Kusama’s stylistic flourishes are used intelligently and create a noirish mood of grunge, regret and meditation. It’s a visceral journey of sight and sound.

2. Nicole Kidman gives the performance of a lifetime.

Nicole Kidman has been in one of the most mind-blowing career renaissances as of late, turning out sublime work in films and TV shows like “Big Little Lies,” “Aquaman” and “The Beguiled.” However, her turn as hardboiled detective Erin Bell stands above them and may even go on to be the highlight of her entire career. She plays deeply against type for a role that is unbelievably subtle, layered and extraordinary. It is far and away the best lead performance I saw in 2018.

3. It’s a film about a woman by women.

“Destroyer” ranks among films like “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”, “Leave No Trace,” “The Tale,” and “Shirkers” for the best films that promoted deep and emotional stories that are about women and created by women. Karyn Kusama has been one of Hollywood’s most important female auteurs since her raw and rich debut feature “Girlfight,” and “Destroyer” is a confident reminder of her powerful status in not painting female characters into a corner. Erin Bell is a complex, intriguing and unique character to follow and Kusama fleshes her out completely. Cinematographer Julie Kirkwood also lends some of the most stunning sun-soaked cinematography I’ve ever seen.

4. It may soon be a part of the awards race.

If you are like me, you like to stay on top of all of the awards season picks and “Destroyer” looks to be a included in the pile for the race for gold. While not a major player in the race, Kidman has earned tons of praise and awards hype for her performance, and so has the makeup and hair departments that helped transform her. On top of that, the technical aspects like editing, cinematography and sound design rank among some of the most prestigious of the year. Annapurna Pictures is putting in work for this campaign and there’s a good chance it could pay off.

5. It destroys!

Simply put, “Destroyer” is one of the best films to come out of 2018. It doesn’t have the widespread appeal of something like “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse”; nor does it have the provocative marketability of something like “Vice.” However, it’s a deeply compelling and uniquely executed character study that is intense and poignant in equal measures. If that sounds like the kind of thing you might enjoy, dive off the deep end, go for it and embrace this exhilarating beast of a film.

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