Dance Of  Deception


Stars: Nicole Kidman, Sebastian Stan, Toby Kebbell, Bradley Whitford and Tatiana Maslany

Director: Karyn Kusama

Scriptwriters: Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi

Cinematography: Julia Kirkwood

Composer: Theodore Shapiro

Annapurna Films/30 West

Rating: R for violence, profanity and themed material

Running Length: 120 minutes


This is Nicole Kidman’s film all the way. You won’t recognize her, in either of the time periods she plays in.  As a young woman, police operative infiltrating a gang and years later, as an emotionally broken detective on the trail of a murderer. She has become an alcoholic and it shows. Not only is it unusual to play the same character years apart, but the script by Hay and Manfredi is unusual, too, and it caught me by surprise.


The film opens at a crime scene in a deserted part of the city. Police are called because of the discovery of a body and a police officer not on call, Erin (Nicole Kidman), shows up at the scene, looking the worse for wear.  From there, the story is told in flashbacks as to how Erin became part of a gang of bank robbers, giving information on the side to police partner (Sebastian Stan), and the relationships within the gang led by Silas (Toby Kebbell.). When there is a tragedy, Erin is back on regular duty with the force, but a changed person. She has a child (Shelby played by Jade Pettyjohn) and starts the downward spiral of alcoholism.  Why? We eventually find out as she wends her way through her teenage daughter’s relationships with a boyfriend, and meeting “friends” (“Petra” played by Tatiana Maslany) from the past who aren’t glad to see her. When Erin accidentally stumbles upon another bank robbery, the pace picks up, as the plan is familiar, and who is back in town?


The title, “Destroyer,” could mean many things from someone destroying you to you destroying them. It is all in the perspective. One begins to wonder how Erin could hang onto her job in the police force, but they seem to leave her alone as she works. Like a camouflaged deer hunter in the woods waiting for that certain deer to come by, Erin lives year after year.  Finally, it happens, and she recognizes him before anyone else. That person couldn’t resist leaving something behind. The hunt is on. From then on, the story doesn’t proceed as you would think from the usual police dramas on film today. The story line goes slightly askew, just enough to throw the movie-goer off track.


There is plenty of action in “Destroyer” and one wonders how much of the action Kidman did herself, as her character takes a pummeling from time to time and she gives as well as takes, being inventive, too. As far as a fashion statement, black leather is always apropos. Julie Kirkwood’s cinematography brings the Southwest into play, where sunsets and shadows in a room have meaning.


“Destroyer” has come without the usual publicity at this time of the year. Coming onto the scene against the usual high-tech movies, it has its own place for those who like to piece things together. The original script by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi makes you wonder what else they have up their sleeve for 2019.



Copyright 2019 Marie Asner