The Return of Nicole Kidman’s Face
This was the title of an article by respected film critic Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly in the magazine’s latest issue (December 3).
Oh it was a bold move, non?
Then again, Time Warner and News Corporation have had a testy relationship...
EW’s parent co is Time Warner. And News Corp (FOX), as you know, is owned by Rupert Murdoch. Mr Murdoch and Granny Freeze are very, very, VERY tight. Like as tight as her face. You are kidding yourself if you think this sh-t never comes into play.
But the article, well, it did mean well. It did suggest that it’s time for us to stop talking about Nicole Kidman’s face. That she’s finally delivered her best work in a long time in Rabbit Hole and that therefore the conversation should be focused back on her skill as an actor, as opposed to the strange immobilisation of everything above her neck.
I guess that’s how it was intended. Unfortunately, that’s not how it reads. Because no matter how genuine your intentions, when the subject matter is Nicole Kidman and the frozen tundra that’s attached itself to her head, it’s impossible to avoid the glacier.
Like when Schwarzbaum reviews Granny’s Rabbit Hole performance:
“For what it’s worth, Kidman’s famous features DO move – a little more – in Rabbit Hole.”
“A constant awareness of Kidman’s visage – how parts have appeared tighter or plumper in recent years, how parts don’t move or remain unfurrowed even in the act of expressing intense emotion – has, after all, become an unavoidable topic of conversation when it comes to the willowy Oscar-winning Australian star.... That obsession is true not only for gossip-page scribes but for serious film critics, too. “What has she done to her face?” asked worried critic Stephanie Zacharek on Salon.com in her 2007 review of Margot at the Wedding. Zacharek concluded that “Kidman’s skin...has turned into her greatest limitation, a boundary beyond which she can’t stretch.” In his 2008 New York magazine evaluation of Australia, David Edelstein made a joke at the expense of Kidman’s “big immovable forehead”. Working backward to a compliment in a New York Times review of The Golden Compass in 2007, Manohla Dargis accepted the star’s “masklike countenance”, concluding that “for once, the smooth planes of her face, untroubled by visible lines, serve the character”.
In acknowledging the widespread conversation that took place over her face, it’s almost a validation of the discussion. She has tried to avoid it for years, she has tried to dismiss it for a long, long time. But when Entertainment Weekly – not exactly Star Magazine – puts the issue on the table, in its PRINT version no less, when it becomes SAFE to write about Nicole Kidman’s COSMETIC SURGERY PROCEDURES – which she’s denied many times – you know it means she can’t control her sh-t. And it almost means they’re not afraid of her sh-t.
This Entertainment Weekly article could very well cost them an exclusive. Or maybe they did it because they knew they weren’t getting an exclusive. Whatever the machinations behind the story, for someone of her status, who doesn’t drag scandal around with her, it’s an unusually unfiltered profile, positioning Kidman as an example of what’s wrong with the industry, but also highlighting perhaps what’s wrong with us. And this, if I’m her people, is what’s most damaging: that Nicole for something inherently flawed in our collective perspective:
“The fact is, physical enhancement is as much a professional requirement for an actor aspiring to Hollywood fame as strength training is for an athlete aiming for the NFL. With the pressures put on movie stars (particularly female) , first by an industry (particularly male) that pays lip service to “reality” while obsessively promoting what’s young and hot, and in turn by us, the audience, it’s a wonder more actors, both male and female, don’t lose sight of what’s right and natural about their own bodies. These days – let’s face it – Nicole Kidman has become a mirror for our own ambivalence.”
Now that is about as candid as it comes from a non-tabloid publication. We need more of it.