Starring Nicole Kidman, Sebastian Stan, Toby Kebbell, Tatiana Maslany, Bradley Whitford, Jade Pettyjohn, Scoot McNairy
Directed by Karyn Kusama
Hotly anticipated for a long time, and then seemingly disappearing after a limited release in the United States, Destroyer is a film that deserves a good deal of acclaim. Nicole Kidman gives what might be the strongest performance of her career.
Destroyer focuses on detective Erin Bell, who went undercover on a bank heist that went horribly wrong. Now obsessed with the events, she appears to never sleep or eat. Over the course of the film, we see her fight to track down the man responsible for her suffering, the twisted Silas, a man with a cult-leader like ability to manipulate people. She also clashes with her estranged daughter Shelby.
The film cuts between segments that show Erin undercover and the main story seventeen years later. These segments are distinguished by the way that she looks in each segment, with her hair and overall appearance changing.
Nicole Kidman’s performance stands out as the driving force behind Destroyer. As well as looking different in each segment, she manages to portray Erin differently in each, bearing the scars of the trauma she has experienced. The film essentially sees Kidman shed the type of roles she has tended to portray over her career, transforming into a character who is herself both destroyed and well…destroyer.
Destroyer is no mediation on the subject of grace and forgiveness. Its flawed protagonist is very much fuelled by a desire for revenge and her quest for this revenge is what pushes the narrative. Silas is in some ways Destroyer’s MacGuffin, in that everything hinges on Erin finding him so she can kill him. Even so, the film touches on the corrosive effect of hanging on to grudges and the need for forgiveness in relationships (especially in the arc between Erin and Shelby). Erin finds herself consumed by her obsession in many ways.
The film is a hard-hitting piece. During the screening Insights attended, there were several points when audience members audibly gasped. Watching it is a uniquely disturbing experience, similar to the likes of No Country For Old Men.
Running at two hours, Destroyer is quite a long film, but every minute is well used. For anyone who can handle its violent imagery, it is worth the time investment.
Destroyer will be released in Australian cinemas on 21 March.
Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor