Thursday, December 22, 2011
Why can't Nicole Kidman always be awesome?
Tom Cruise got his post yesterday, and among the settlements from their divorce many years ago is that Nicole must be given equivalent coverage whenever Tom is mentioned in the public domain.*
Well, I don't know if Nicole will be too happy with this one.
But let me start by buttering her up. Nicole Kidman is, for my money, quite possibly the most talented actress working today. Oh sure, you could offer plenty of other compelling choices and you'd probably be right. But when Nicole is on, she's on. And in those times (Rabbit Hole, Birth, etc.), no one does it better.
Unfortunately, Kidman is showing about as much selectivity when it comes to scripts as her famously undiscriminating Trespass co-star, Nicolas Cage.
I watched Trespass Tuesday night, knowing full well that it was a generally reviled film. It barely had a theatrical release and was on DVD almost immediately, even with the names Kidman, Cage and Schumacher all attached. (Say what you want about Joel Schumacher, but his films at least get theatrical releases.) I didn't see much promise in the names Cage and Schumacher, but Kidman had me interested.
So I watched.
Trespass is one of the most poorly conceived, poorly written, indifferently acted and just plain cliched home invasion movies you will ever see. It doesn't contain the slightest bit of nuance, and for large periods of time it doesn't make any sense, either.
What's worst is that Kidman is bad. She doesn't elevate the material, not even a little bit. She acts down to it, almost like she's got an on-off switch and it's currently switched off. She's still the same actress -- she still does those little facial twitches and other expressions that remind me who she is. But the movie is still absolutely terrible.
Part of what should make an actress good is her willingness to hold out for the roles she wants. Clearly, Kidman isn't doing that. You could list a number of her famous duds (Bewitched, The Stepford Wives, etc.), but you really don't need to go outside the year 2011 to wonder what the hell she's doing. Her most mysterious appearance this year -- which originally gave me the idea to write a post about her choices -- was the awful Adam Sandler-Jennifer Aniston comedy Just Go With It. Didn't think she was in that? Yeah, neither did anybody. She's some kind of rival to Aniston's character, and it's a thankless role that involves embarrassing dance sequences and other pratfalls. What were you thinking, Nicole? (I'm guessing she's friends with Sandler or something.)
We have to pause now to regrettably acknowledge the reality that Hollywood is not brimming with satisfying roles for actresses. For every grieving mother of a deceased child (Rabbit Hole), there are ten roles for bad romantic rivals (Just Go With It).
Still, this is Nicole Kidman. She's been nominated for three Oscars and won one. And should have been nominated for an Oscar for Birth. Here's a quick scene from Birth that summarizes everything of which she is capable. Unfortunately, embedding is disabled on youtube, so you'll just have to follow the hyperlink above. The blow-your-mind acting begins at about 1:20, but the first 1:20 is useful for establishing Kidman's emotional state during the ensuing scene.
But the problem is, if you want to work -- and it appears that Kidman does -- there's pretty much no way to keep your record totally unblemished. There are very few actors or actresses who don't have at least a couple duds to their credit.
Here's hoping that Kidman has gotten her couple duds out of her system in 2011, and her 2012 will be more like her 2010.