Cert 15 120mins Stars 4

Nicole Kidman gets down and dirty in this exceptional and intense revenge driven neo-noir thriller.

Looking haggard and drawn while offering us a complex mess of damaged vulnerability, and grim determination, the Aussie actress eschews glamour and the audience affections to deliver the strongest and most interesting performance of her career.

As Erin, she’s a badly-wired loose canon cop in Los Angeles, and when a murder victim is found, the only clue to his identity convinces the police detective a dangerous criminal called Silas has returned to the neighbourhood.

Setting out to catch Silas with little regard for the law, Erin is suffering the psychological fallout of an undercover case she worked on some earlier and is wracked with grief and guilt.

Nominated for Best Actress at the Golden Globes but ignored at the upcoming Oscars, Kidman is unfortunate to be overlooked for the major awards and won an oscar for a role far less challenging role than this.

And as the shamanic criminal Silas, Brit star Toby Kebbell is full of captivating menace as he channels notorious real life killer Charles Manson into his performance. 

There’s a disastrous bank robbery which turned into lethal violence is at the heart of the story, but it’s not the only one we witness.

Previously responsible for 2009’s cult horror, Jennifer’s Body, Karyn Kusama reinvigorates the genre with her accomplished, stylish and confident direction which provides us with an engrossing mix of female perspective, tricksy flashback narrative and tremendous sense of place.

She combines the druggy, anxious seedy and corrupt ambience, of Robert Altman 1973 detective classic, The Long Goodbye, and combines it with the hard-fisted edge of John Boorman’s 1967 existential thriller, Point Blank, creating a serious and nihilist piece of work which is in turns sombre and thrilling.

Filming on location, cinematographer Julie Kirkwood does a remarkable job of breathing fresh life into the all-too familiar landscape of Los Angeles, and editor Plummy Tucker holds our attention with her carefully crafted seductive rhythms and changes of pace.

With the Academy members opting for safe and bland options such as Green Book, Kusama should feel hard as done by as Kidman for her great work here not being recognised.

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