Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Nicole Kidman Shows Her Range in 'Stoker'

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Nicole Kidman Shows Her Range in 'Stoker'

Article excerpt

MINNEAPOLIS -- It's the prerogative of a movie star to create a distinctive image and build fortress walls around it. A film actress behaves otherwise, seeking audacious and independent projects that test her chameleon abilities.

Then there's Nicole Kidman, whose 44-film career defies easy categorization. She's sought by international cinema's top directors for her aristocratic beauty and laser-like intensity. Yet she pushes her artistic boundaries in dark comedies (Gus Van Sant's "To Die For"), extravagant romances (Baz Luhrmann's "Moulin Rouge") and character roles (winning an Oscar under impressive makeup as homely, unstable novelist Virginia Woolf in Stephen Daldry's "The Hours").

There are aspects of all those films in her newest, "Stoker," which she calls "a fairy-tale horror thriller." It's a Hitchcockian coming-of-age nightmare that marks the stateside debut for Korean iconoclast Park Chan-wook, known for stories of eccentric intrigue, sumptuous visuals and brutal violence.

Ms. Kidman plays Evelyn, a recent widow sharing a drafty mansion with her emotionally distant daughter, India (Mia Wasikowska). When her late husband's mysterious brother, Charlie (Matthew Goode), arrives for the funeral, Evelyn and India enter into a kinky, high- stakes competition for his affections. With piercing eyes, ice- sculpture smiles and a head-snappingly dysfunctional approach to parenthood, Evelyn may be the most unbalanced character Ms. Kidman has ever played. And that's saying something: Her last outing, "The Paperboy," cast her as a Deep South sexpot with a thing for convicts and barely legal young men.

"It's so much fun to try on an extravagant character and wear it around for a while," Ms. Kidman said by phone. "It's such a great opportunity to stretch in new directions. It's like my version of repertory theater."

Ms. Kidman, 45, can pick and choose her films. "Stoker" was originally set in New England but Mr. Park moved the production to Tennessee, where Ms. …

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