November 2004 (v7 i3)
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Kidman unconvincing as children's mother
by Neb Marshall, Film Critic

At this time of year, when the leaves turn and the blue skies pale to a somber gray, another force of nature undergoes a different transformation on the silver screen. Nicole Kidman, the chameleonic actress — nay, thespian — stars in an annual string of prestige pictures meant to jerk the tear and snag the Oscar. But to watch her, in all her various incarnations, is to see a band of light dance upon the face of a mercurial God.

I don't even know what that means. But what I do know is this: Since her debut as the gangly 11-foot-tall alien at the end of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Nicole Kidman has held me spellbound in her every ensuing role. She titillated me in To Die For. Wowed me in Moulin Rouge. And don't even get me started on her turn as Rerun on What's Happening!

It is because of this awed reverence that I bear a heavy heart in admitting she has finally made a misstep. She's chosen a role that is plainly out of her range; it requires underpinnings of emotion — like "love" and "selflessness" — that are simply foreign to her. I'd be remiss to overlook it, so I state it now: Nicole Kidman is unconvincing as the mother of her real-life children.

This ugly truth became crystal clear on the press junket for Birth, the latest pathos-washed Kidman drama. In the film, she plays a woman whose reincarnated husband revisits her in the body of a 10-year-old boy. In one controversial scene, she and the boy bathe together in a candlelit bathtub. Many have criticized the scene on moral grounds. Here's how one reporter broached the subject:

Interviewer: How did you feel shooting that scene when your own son's about the same age?

Kidman: Excuse me?

Interviewer: Your son. You have a son just one year younger than the boy in the movie. Was that weird at all to bear in mind as you were doing the scene?

Kidman: Oh, my son! Of course. Him. Uh... (glancing quickly at palm) Connor loves that his mommy is a movie star. Next question.

Now, if Kidman regularly flubbed her lines this badly during a film shoot, she would never have gained her reputation as a consummate pro.

But that isn't even the worst of it. The worst of it is the stilted delivery: that overly lilting voice, those maniacally arched eyebrows, the faint twinkle in her eyes that betrays the desperate sentiment: "Motherhood is a prison — whose dick do I have to suck for a rock hammer?!"

I know what you're thinking: "What if, instead of failing in her role as a nurturing mother, she's totally owning her true role as a self-absorbed praying mantis of a woman who treats her kids as mere accessories to the sleek Dior dress that she calls a life?" Hmm. Good point, I hadn't thought of that. But I still don't think so. Two words: Lenny Kravitz.

For several torturous months, Kidman and that fashion shitstain engaged in what they quaintly term a relationship. If you recall, his music video for "Again" features a shot of him walking past the camera while completely in the buff. That wasn't shot exclusively for the video; it was taken from a Kidman family home movie. Nicole willfully put her children through that.

If it's true that all the world's a stage, then no cosmic screenwriter could ever be sadistic enough to write a character so base, so supremely, irrevocably evil. Not even God.
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