Destroyer follows the moral and existential odyssey of LAPD detective Erin Bell (Nicole Kidman) who, as a young FBI agen, was placed undercover with a gang in the California desert with tragic results. VERY tragic results. When the leader of that gang re-emerges many years later, she must work her way back through the remaining members and into her own history with them to finally reckon with the demons that destroyed her past.
You know I like flawed heroes too much for my own good, right? Well, I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen a cop, and a human being, as flawed as Erin Bell. Her face tells you all: wrinkled, ravaged, tired, old, hopeless. Her marriage is in tatters, her estranged teen daughter, Shelby ( Jade Pettyjohn) , doesn’t even want to talk to her mom anymore and she dates a young man who has every characteristic of a pimp-in-making just to make Erin mad . Overall, the movie flips traditional gender roles – usually Erin would be an Edward or an Ethan. Also any actress who would agree to look so disastrously bad in a movie would be the prime candidate for an Oscar. And yet, strangely, Kidman received no Academy recognition whatsoever even though she performed splendidly well. What went wrong this time?
Perhaps the movie was too depressing, too noir for American audience, too close to real life to be popular and secure Kidman an award. At no point Erin seems to be a ‘charming girl’ not even when we flip back to her younger self and her doomed romance. As she admits to her sceptical daughter near the very end, she is the bad one and she means it. Seeing the sad story of her life unravel before our eyes we have to confirm that much – Erin’s place is in jail or rather, taking into account her many addictions, in a hospital first, jail later. I think (and I might be wrong) that the grueling narrative, hopeless from the beginning to the very end, doomed this one. After all Americans love nothing better than a ray of hope and a nice HEA in their books and movies and ‘Destroyer’ fell short of their expectations.
A good movie filmed exceedingly well, but as dark as a tar pit. Overall not an experience to be repeated. It does leave a lingering impact but it also make you depressed.