'Destroyer' review misses the point

2019-04-08 14:06
Nicole Kidman in Destroyer. (Image.Net)

Nicole Kidman in Destroyer. (Image.Net)

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The witheringly dismissive review of Nicole Kidman's "Destroyer" (currently on circuit) by Ilan Preskovsky, in all fairness, requires a counter viewpoint for those cinemagoers who by now have had their fill of DC Comics/Captain Marvel fare.

Preskovsky must have surrendered any kind of emotional investment quite soon into the film in favour of a one-dimensional approach to this gritty and gnarly, odious and convincingly characterized piece of post-modern cinema.

One would be doomed, therefore, to not appreciating the critical cutaways, narrative breadcrumbs and flashbacks that director Karyn Kusama so skillfully weaves into the storyline. It's possible too that the director's imagination for this venture may, in part, have been fired up by the burnt circuitry of Charlize Theron's Oscar-winning "Monster".

Yet, these considerations are left on Preskovsky's editing floor; the film, he says, "is dull, dour, overly long, humourless, badly constructed, hideously ugly and utterly unable to evoke even the faintest hints of sympathy in its audience".

This is quite the one-sided demolition job and will, unfairly, ward off any potential interest in this very worthy and emotionally rewarding production. (For those interested, do read also the review by the authoritative New York Times reviewer, Manohla Dargis, for a different perspective.)

Director Kusama is also said to be "turning a potentially interesting story about a broken cop trying to find redemption and revenge … into a grey, dirgy slog". Here's a newsflash – it's called life and it is, more often than not, for most people, "a grey, dirgy slog", as Preskovsky says. Therein lies the authenticity of this viewing experience. Not all movies are owed the Hollywood-obligatory milk-and-cookies ending, of the kind that has now reached its apogee with the current glut of animated / cartoon / comic characters on circuit.

Without giving anything away (because "Destroyer" is its own beast), this is Nicole Kidman's "Training Day" (Denzel Washington), sliced and diced with her own take on the disconnected murderous mindset of "Collateral" (Tom Cruise).

In doing so, Kidman strikes a blow as the female lead in a hitherto male-dominated genre, putting paid once and for all to that stereotype. It is a proverbial acting tour de force, an ocean removed from any discerning comparison ever likely to be made again with the iconic Meryl Streep.

The movie's relentless pace and bleakness seem to have wholly overcome the reviewer Preskovsky, and as such we'll need generously to assume a bad day at the office. But the litany of detractions should not be allowed to spoil it for those enthusiasts eager for something more meaty, more true to life, which this film delivers, along with a cleverly-disguised, gradually emerging motif of mother-daughter pathos.

Perversely, "Destroyer" is also achingly romantic - for all the deadly wrong reasons, and in this regard, the overall sense of caution one gleans from Preskovsky's review is accurate – this is not a date movie. We'll grant him that much.

Read more on:    nicole kidman  |  destroyer

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