From the brilliant film historian and critic David Thomson, a book that reinvents the star biography in a singularly illuminating portrait of Nicole Kidman--and what it means to be a top actress today. At once life story, love letter, and critical analysis, this is not merely a book about who Kidman is but about what she is--in our culture and in our minds, on- and offscreen.
Tall, Australian, one of the striking beauties of the world, Nicole Kidman is that rare modern phenomenon--an authentic movie star who is as happy and as creative throwing a seductive gaze from some magazine cover as she is being Virginia Woolf in The Hours. Here is the story of how this actress began her career, has grown through her roles, taken risks, made good choices and bad, and worried about money, aging, and image.
Here are the details of an actress's life: her performances in To Die For, The Portrait of a Lady, Eyes Wide Shut, Moulin Rouge!, The Hours, and Birth, among other films; her high-visibility marriage to Tom Cruise; her intense working relationship with Stanley Kubrick and her collaborations with Anthony Minghella and Baz Luhrmann; her work with Jude Law, Anthony Hopkins, Ren?e Zellweger, and John Malkovich; her decisions concerning nudity, endorsements, and publicity.
And here are Thomson's scintillating considerations of what celebrity means in the life of an actress like Kidman; of how the screen becomes both barrier and open sesame for her and for her audience; of what is required today of an actress of Kidman's stature if she is to remain vital to the industry and to the audiences who madeher a prime celebrity.
Impassioned, opinionated, dazzlingly original in its approach and ideas, Nicole Kidman is as alluring and as much fun as Nicole Kidman herself, and David Thomson's most remarkable book yet.
Thomson's love letter to Kidman is less a biography than a long and winding meditation on moviemaking and starmaking. Thomson attempts to chronicle the actress's personal life based on her statements to the media, her choice of roles and an interview with her, but the bulk of this account consists of his inferences and analysis, including the observation that actors project what they expect we, the public, want them to be. His angle on Kidman is a question: is she sincere in her actions and true to herself? The real question is, how much do we care? Following absorbing sections about her youth in Australia and beginnings as a talented newcomer in Hollywood, Thomson (The Whole Equation: A History of Hollywood) constructs a time line of Kidman's movies, giving near-equal weight to her breakthrough in To Die For and her Oscar-winning role as Virginia Woolf in The Hours as to a string of duds (Birth, The Stepford Wives, The Interpreter). For Thomson, the failures offer fertile--or, sometimes for the reader, tiresome--opportunities to reimagine casting, directing and story. Omnivorous movie buffs might appreciate Thomson's take on Hollywood, but US Weekly readers won't have the stamina for his blend of star worship and criticism. (Sept.)
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January 07, 2008
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