My desire to completely expunge The Hours from memory is so all-consuming that every time I consider Nicole Kidman’s impressive filmography, I completely forget that she’s a Best Actress winner. It’s not easy to get consensus on Kidman. Many people think she’s had a great career; I tend to think she’s had a smart career. Since her true breakthrough performance in Gus Van Sant’s To Die For, Kidman has worked with the right people on the wrong projects. Certainly, you’ll never lose points for starring in movies directed by Anthony Minghella, Sydney Pollack, Lars von Trier, Robert Benton or Stanley Kubrick, but the films in which she appeared did not catch on with the public, nor were they unanimous critical successes (yes, there’s still a misguided anti-Eyes Wide Shut camp). There’s no doubt that Kidman is a movie star, but she seems like the kind of celebrity who’s been forced on the public. Does anyone really know or love this woman?
That’s a lot to drop on ol’ girl in an innocent casting announcement, but Kidman’s ascent has always intrigued me (and not just because of the Tom Cruise angle). Her most memorable turns cannily capitalized on her sex appeal; her sweaty tangle with Billy Zane in Dead Calm is probably the reason she’s in Hollywood, while her murderously ambitious television personality in To Die For ranks as one of filmdom’s great monsters. Why can’t we get more of that Kidman?
Don’t expect anything remotely dangerous from her just-announced collaboration with The Family Stone* director Tom Bezucha, currently titled Monte Carlo. Bezucha also cowrote the screenplay with Maria Maggenti, which is based on a novel by Jules Bass about "three Midwestern schoolteachers who ditch a disappointing no-frills holiday in Paris and pose as wealthy women vacationing in Monaco." No matter how much I (hate to admit I) liked The Family Stone, this premise makes me want to go sit bare-assed on a hill of fire ants. Actually, I have a pitch along those lines; it’s basically Fight Club meets Them. But with heart.
There’s no start date yet for Monte Carlo, so Kidman still has time to book herself out of this dreadful sounding romantic comedy. But I’m expecting great things from Noah Baumbach’s Margot at the Wedding; maybe that’ll give her a little leeway to slum.
*A runner-up for our "Guiltiest Pleasures" list as far as I’m concerned.