Film review: Destroyer
Karyn Kusama’s moody Los Angeles cop thriller, Destroyer, is destined to be remembered as the film in which one of Hollywood’s most famously glamorous and elegant superstars, Nicole Kidman, demonstrated just how unglamorous and inelegant she could be. Kidman plays LAPD detective Erin Bell, a name which makes her sound like a Disney character, when she is actually the exact opposite. A gaunt, alcoholic wreck who tends to sleep either in a bar or in her car, Erin has papery, liver-spotted skin; cracked lips; bags over as well as under her eyes; and a mop of greying hair that would probably digest any comb that went near it. Whenever she trudges towards her colleagues, they swear under their breath and back away, mainly because she has become such an embarrassing liability, but partly, you assume, because of the stench that clings to her black leather jacket.
库萨马（Karyn Kusama）指导的警匪惊悚片《摧毁者》（Destroyer，又名《无间炼狱》） 以洛杉矶为背景，压抑灰暗。好莱坞最以魅力和优雅著称的超级明星基德曼（Nicole Kidman）展示了自己可以多么黯淡粗野，注定会让大家记住此片。基德曼扮演洛杉矶警探艾琳・贝尔（Erin Bell），名字像是迪士尼人物，但实际上完全相反。她骨瘦如柴，酗酒成性，不是睡在酒吧就是自己车里。她皮肤干瘪，长着雀斑，嘴唇干裂，挂着眼袋，一头灰白头发，梳子一靠近就可能被吞噬。每当她拖着脚步走向同事，他们就会低声骂着转身走开，主要因为她是一个麻烦的累赘，但你会觉得也是因为她黑色皮夹克上的臭味。
Kidman’s lack of vanity in the role is impressive, but the film’s truly daring aspect is not how badly Erin looks but how badly she behaves. She alienates her colleagues and beats up her contacts, habits which Hollywood movies usually give to wisecracking rebels. But Erin is less of a cool anti-hero than a hot mess. She has ruined her relationship with her ex-husband (Scoot McNairy) and her teenaged daughter Shelby (Jade Pettyjohn); her working relationship with her partner (Shamier Anderson) isn’t much better; and her barely competent police work seems to be motivated not by a thirst for justice or even revenge, but by half-crazed desperation. For a male film star to play such a hopeless case would be brave enough; for a female film star to do so is almost unprecedented. Destroyer isn’t quite as radical as Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here, but both films take action-movie archetypes C the maverick cop, the soldier-turned-mercenary C and examine how deeply miserable such a person would be.
基德曼在这个角色中抛下浮华，令人印象深刻，但影片真正大胆的地方不在于艾琳的样子有多糟糕，而是她的行为。她疏远同事，并且暴打线人，这通常是好莱坞电影中油嘴滑舌的叛徒干的事。艾琳是个冷酷的反英雄，更是一个烫手山芋。她毁了与前夫（麦克纳里[Scoot McNairy]饰）和十几岁女儿谢尔比（Shelby，佩蒂约翰[Jade Pettyjohn]饰）的关系，与工作搭档（安德森[Shamier Anderson]饰）也好不到哪里去。她的工作能力差强人意，当警察似乎不是出于对正义或哪怕是对复仇的渴望，而是近乎疯狂的绝望。男明星扮演这样一个无可救药的角色都很勇敢，女星来演则几乎史无前例。《摧毁者》不像拉姆塞（Lynne Ramsay）指导的《你从未在此》（You Were Never Really Here）那样激进，但两部电影都采用了动作片的原型――特立独行的警察以及从士兵变成雇佣兵的人，并审视了他们会有多悲惨。
The reason Erin is so troubled is that, almost two decades earlier, she went on an undercover mission that went catastrophically wrong. She and an FBI agent (Sebastian Stan) were assigned to infiltrate a gang of bank-robbing lowlifes who were under the control of a Charles Manson-like sadist, Silas (Toby Kebbell). He disappeared after she failed to bring him to justice, but one night Erin spots a tattoo on a murder victim’s neck which identifies him as one of Silas’s acolytes. If she can find her old enemy after all this time, she might just find redemption, too C although, given that the murder victim appears healthier than she does, that redemption never seems likely.
艾琳饱受折磨是因为大约20年前，她执行一项秘密任务时出了灾难性的问题。她和一名联邦调查局特工（斯坦[Sebastian Stan]饰）被指派潜入一个抢劫银行的卑劣犯罪团伙，主脑是和连环杀人犯曼森（Charles Manson）一样的虐待狂塞拉斯（Silas，凯贝尔[Toby Kebbell]饰）。她没能将塞拉斯绳之以法，他消失了，但是一天晚上，艾琳在一个案件死者的脖子上发现了一个纹身，这是塞拉斯一位随从的标志。过了这么久，如果她能找到宿敌，可能会获得救赎。这位死者看起来比她健康，她的救赎似乎永远都得不到。
As Erin harasses one after another of Silas’s sleazebag associates (including a rich and smarmy lawyer played by Bradley Whitford), Destroyer alternates between the current investigation and teasing flashbacks to the ill-fated undercover job, which means that the film offers two Kidman transformations for the price of one: in the present she looks like death warmed up, and in the past she is a fresh-faced rookie who could have been a model if she hadn’t made it through police academy. The wigs and the prosthetic make-up can be distracting: it’s hard to concentrate on Kidman’s tremendous performance when you’re marvelling at how diligently her features have been disguised. Viewers who are particularly sensitive to over-the-top hair-pieces will also be bothered by Kebbell, who seems to have dressed up as Jim Morrison for Halloween.
艾琳接连给塞拉斯卑鄙的同伙们制造麻烦（包括一个富有且虚情假意的律师，惠特福德[Bradley Whitford]饰），影片在当前的调查和此前多舛的卧底工作之间切换，只用一部电影的价钱就能看到两种风格的基德曼：现在的她看上去病入膏肓，而过去则是一个面带稚气的警界新人，如果没进警校可能已经做了模特。假发和化妆让人分心：你会惊讶于基德曼的容貌竟然隐藏得如此之好，因此很难把注意力集中在她出色的表演上。如果观众对夸张的假发特别在意，那也会对凯贝尔的造型感到不满，他打扮得像是摇滚歌星莫里森（Jim Morrison）要去过万圣节。
But if some of the film’s scenes have the air of a costume party, most of them are strikingly committed to the story’s essential squalor and nastiness. Los Angeles is presented as a hellhole: a civilisation on the verge of being overrun by nature and obliterated by the searing sunshine. There is a nerve-jangling shoot-out at the halfway point, and some close-up violence that will make you wince. Kusama’s breakthrough film was Girlfight, a boxing drama starring Michelle Rodriguez, but its knockout blows were gentle compared to the punches and kicks that Erin gives and receives in Destroyer.
Not that the film is grim for the sake of being grim. The screenplay, by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi, feels thin and under-plotted at first, but it keeps adding gut-wrenching twists and tantalising glimpses of Erin’s history. What’s clever about the script is that it reveals her to be a terrible person who has done terrible things, but the more despicable she is shown to be, the more you care about her.
电影倒不是一味地追求冷酷。剧本出自海伊（Phil Hay）和曼弗雷迪（Matt Manfredi）之手，开头很空洞，情节也不完整，但之后不断出现令人揪心的转折，对艾琳过去的回顾也很吸引人。剧本的巧妙之处在于，它让你看到艾琳是个做过可怕事情的可怕的人，但她越卑鄙，你就越关心她。
Destroyer is still a pulpy crime movie rather than a profound tragedy. It’s not too different from the indie neo-noirs that came out in the mid-1990s, shortly after Reservoir Dogs and Heat. But the unsentimental yet sympathetic way it treats its heroine is oddly touching. And it leaves you with the question of who the destroyer of the title is. Could it be Erin, who has demolished her own life and the lives of others? Could it be Silas, who is as much a demon as a human being? Or could it be time itself, which grinds down all of the characters, even if the damage is more obvious on Erin’s face than on anyone else’s?