Dir. Karyn Kusama
Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)
“I’m mad. I’m still mad. It’s burnt a circuit in my brain.”
What do you do when you’ve lost yourself in guilt, recrimination and self-loathing? These are just some of the issues that L.A. PD detective Erin Bell (Nicole Kidman) is dealing with in this hard-boiled crime-em-up where crimes of the past come back to exact vengeance on her.
As well as the threat of a criminal gang lord being released from prison and gunning for her, she must also cope with her disaffected daughter, Shelby (Jade Pettyjohn), who is out of control and in danger of following in her self-destructive life path.
"don't mess with her..."
Kidman is on scenery-chewing form and has undergone a physically incredible transformation to show the horrific state she’s in after years of alcohol abuse. Her present-day looks contrast sharply with flashbacks to when she was a bright-eyed, beautiful young cop sent undercover to infiltrate a dangerous gang of bank robbers. Things didn’t end well back then and her partner/lover Chris (Sebastian Stan) was killed but over the course of two hours, we get to try and work out quite what happened and why Erin never seemed to recover.
Director Karyn ‘ Jennifer's Body’ Kusama walks us through Erin’s personal hell of existence – she’s the destroyer of the title and it is those around her who pay the price. Having lost her moral compass and fearing repercussions of her past Erin blazes a trail of violence as she seeks answers and tries to pay back those who wronged her. But is there any form of redemption on offer – or just an all-encompassing bleakness?
"back in the good ol days"
The obvious stand out here is Kidman’s physical transformation but she attacks the role with such gusto that it’s hard to believe she’s the same actress from lighter fare such as Moulin Rouge. The cinematography is hard-edged, and the cast are on form – praise to Sebastian Stan who brings a searing emotional heart to the relationship with Kidman.
Destroyer isn’t a feel-good film in any sense of the word. It has divided audiences and critics alike but for me it burnt an indelible memory and is likely to be one of my films of the year. Kidman really should have had an OSCAR nom for this role but has been overlooked, whatever, this is a heavy-duty piece of crime noir that deserves to be seen.
"destroy the heart she said..."
(4.5 - Crunching bleakness that is hard to look away from)
Awesomeness öööö – Strong scenes...
Laughs ö – very limited mirth
Horror ööö – Dark and violent
Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - How broken is 'too far gone?'