Destroyer – a hard “no”

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Nicole Kidman goes full tilt into the character of Erin Bell, and this performance, which is supposed to carry the film, ends up ruining it. On top of that, the film suffers from some rather serious plot holes, dubious styling and one-dimensional characters. (Why is the husband so damned sweet?) Finally, when the reason for Erin’s descent into the abyss is finally revealed, it’s kinda meh.

First off, the good stuff. It is well shot, the soundtrack is great and the final scene between mother and daughter carries emotional gravitas (which, I suppose, was meant to anchor the whole film). That’s it, in my opinion.

Now for the smaller infractions. Styling. The wigs, which mostly indicate flashbacks, are terrible. In this day and age, a wig shouldn’t look like a wig. It distracts from the scene you’re watching if it looks like something died on the actor’s head.

Kidman’s “look” is also excessive: the make-up and the wig become a mask she wears, a mask that cuts you off from her. Sure, there is a twist at the end which explains why she looks ready to keel over, but you wonder throughout the film how it is possible for her even to walk, let alone clobber a bulky thug into oblivion with a fancy bar of soap.

Which brings me to her performance. It is almost the caricature of a woman on the edge – the deathly pallor, her staggering gait, the mumbling, the make-up and her passing out and sleeping on the tiled floor. The only time she seems human is during the above-mentioned final scene with her daughter. But, by then, it is too late. You’ve given up on her and the film ages ago.

Which then brings me to how inaccessible the film is. It is incredibly bleak. For a viewer to sit through it, and ultimately feel something other than being pummelled into submission, you must give them something to hold onto: a character they care about, some emotion here and there. Look at what Margaret Atwood does. Just when you are about to throw your hands into the air and curse Atwood, she cracks the funniest joke or breaks your heart. Destroyer is scene on scene of bleak desperation (especially the hand job scene), without letting up.

The plot is also a bit convoluted. She could have gotten to Arturo 17 years earlier if she had really wanted to find Silas. Why wait until he is released from jail? She could have interrogated him? She is a police officer, no?

The shoot-out in the bank is ridiculous. What cop in their right mind storms into a bank being robbed? Then shoots up the joint? Do the police not surround the building and get some hostage negotiator in? If it were just her, sure, she’s crazy, but she goes in with two other very sane police officers.

And poor Petra. She is shot in the leg, then tied to a table (which could be dragged to a phone or the front door, in my opinion), and then she just gives Silas up? A tough bank robber chick? She is not offered redemption, a deal or even some drugs? Then, she’s left with the bullet wound, to go cold turkey for what feels like two days?

The end. I get the skateboarding symbolism. The guy cannot land correctly. He does it over and over again, and then gets it right at an important moment for Erin. But, what is up with the coyote? The gulls? Maybe I was just too numb to figure it out.

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