After hearing one too many people go on about how bizarre film critic David Thomson's new unauthorized biography of Nicole Kidman is, I decided to blow through it. Turns out the book is hardly a biography at all, but something so oddly, intrusively personal and fetishistic that it seems like a translation of some French film theorist's meditation on screen beauty. Thomson mostly sticks to one source -- himself. He makes no effort to hide being in love with Kidman, and devotes paragraph after paragraph to describing her face, bone structure, legs, and "long white thighs," which are "the hands on life's clock, whirling onward." The book contains little information that wasn't already public, except when it comes to Kidman's sex scenes, which are chronicled to a degree that it's hard to imagine where the unsourced information was obtained. Thomson claims, for instance, that Eyes Wide Shut contained sex scenes that were shot but left out, including a "detailed" cunnilingus scene for which Kidman wore a pubic wig. He also explicitly reminds us (and you can imagine him licking his lips as he does so) that Kidman was paid for doing such dirty things.

The book is mostly chaptered by recent film titles, with the bulk of Kidman's early work left undiscussed; don't pick it up if you're expecting insight into the making of Watch the Shadows Dance or Days of Thunder. The recent films that make the grade, in Thomson's opinion, are Moulin Rouge, The Hours and to some extent, Dogville, while some like The Others come in for sharp derision. In each case, Thomson's internal monologue is poured out onto the page, and his recollections of each film, invariably focused on Kidman's body, get tangled up with the impressions of his more detached critical eye. Endless pages are devoted to deconstructing Kidman's look in Birth, for example. His fixation on that particular film is so bottomless that he invents alternate scenes and storylines that could have improved the film, including one in which we see Kidman menstruating in a bathroom and noticing her menstrual blood "as if it were something new, dramatic, but guilt-making."

categories Movies, Cinematical