First things first, if you haven’t seen the trailer for Rabbit Hole, watch it right now. For your convenience I have embedded it below. There’s no reason not to, and if you don’t it just shows you’re really lazy and don’t like good things. Not only will it be important for this following discussion, but it is also a movie that looks tremendously good.

Watch it now, and then join me below for a bit of pontificating.

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Have you watched it now? Good. Wipe the tears away from your eyes and let’s get cracking.

For the past few years I’ve been hearing things from both friends and media sources that leave me puzzled. They speak of Nicole Kidman as a poor actress. As an actress who has lost their dramatic presence. As an actress who has become wooden and unchallenged in her work. This is, as C+C Music Factory would say, a thing that makes you go “hmmm.” It’s such an inaccurate assumption, and I don’t understand why the opinion has taken such prevalence.

For anyone who thinks Kidman is an out-and-out poor actress, I don’t know what to tell you. Maybe she’s not your favorite actress, maybe you don’t dig her style, but to say she’s just not good? If you say that I just don’t believe you’ve watched much of her work. Some people just think she’s dipped into poor quality work. “She just has never been as good as she was in To Die For,” I’ve heard said. Well, sir, that is an outrageous claim.

I’ve also heard it said she hasn’t picked as many interesting projects since To Die For or Eyes Wide Shut. What a crock of grade-a baloney! Honestly, her choices have been growing only more interesting since those two films. This is why it confuses my when people say she is no longer challenging herself as an actress. Even between the two aforementioned “high water marks” she sandwiched in films like Batman Forever, The Peacemaker and Practical Magic. So her participation in films like The Stepford Wives, Bewitched and The Invasion doesn’t seem like such a shocking “step down” for her. Especially considering that while making those films, she was also in Dogville, The Hours, Birth, Moulin Rouge!, Margot at the Wedding, and the like. While the artistic success of each of those films is varied and debatable, none of those could necessarily be regarded as “safe” of “unchallenging” choices.

Yes, her work in things like Invasion or The Stepford Wives can feel unengaged, and the botox doesn’t help anything. She doesn’t seem to be a Christopher Walken-like actress who goes unhinged and full-throttle into any piece of turd film. She does not elevate such material as other actors may. But she never drags the material down. When she does elevate the material is when she’s involved with her “prestige” work. When she is faced with material that is challenging, difficult, dramatic or nuanced, she’s constantly rising to it and giving bravura performances. While people may (rightfully) dislike her work in Invasion they tend to overlook the fact that in that same year she was phenomenal in Margot at the Wedding. And while Australia may have not been a huge commercial barnburner, no one can say she’s passionless in it.

She’s a very talented actress. Honestly, she’s one of the best Hollywood has right now. So when I see this moving trailer for Rabbit Hole it comes as no surprise for me. When I hear people saying that the performance is powerful and is a return to form for her, “Finally matching her potential and performance in To Die For,” it makes me snicker and think, “You really haven’t been watching these past few years, have you?”

Does Nicole Kidman make you go hmmmm? Tell me on the message boards.