by Kleitia Vaso

Since Australia, I have been unable and have little interest in watching a movie starring Nicole Kidman. I watched Rabbit Hole, an artsy dramatic movie which normally I would have rushed to see, a few years after it came out. She is amazing as in most of her performances, especially the ones involving unbearable amounts of pain, but her prematurely transformed face causes me pain. Watching her simultaneously on two different channels, in two different movies, Australia and Cold Mountain, I could actually see the unfortunate changes within a distance of a few (5) years. In Cold Mountain, a boring epic of a movie, she is still semi-naturally beautiful but a little later, it seems obvious to me that, while she is a great actress, she cannot get over how beautiful she is and is constantly aware of her movements, the effect on us (the viewers) through the camera. She, in fact, never forgets her own face.

I am not judging her; to some extent, I understand and identify with most problems that I see in others and about which I write. If I see it, I have it, or traces of it at least. Yet, the question may arise on why I’ve selected her specifically. There are countless people who have altered their looks in even more disturbing ways; there are worse actresses, Jennifer Aniston, for instance, whose movies I still watch despite her being less talented, less beautiful, and with slightly-altered looks.

The thing is I consider Kidman’s transformation fatal precisely because of her possessing so many gifts: an almost perfect appearance, intelligence, emotional intelligence, and sensitivity. I wish she hadn’t destroyed her face, her main tool, and that someone had prevented her. Her face now, with its obvious exaggerations, does not look younger but older than her supposed age because, thinking herself clever, she prematurely prevented something from happening instead of waiting for it, patiently. Her change implies a voluntary surrender to all kinds of pressure; but, what makes it sadder is that she surrendered before anyone, even life, asked her to. If the two main aspects of intelligence include catching the right moment and knowing limits and measures, she fails on both counts. The two aspects that make her transformation uncomfortable to watch are precisely these two reasons: she rushed to prevent something that hadn’t happened yet and she doesn’t know where to stop. And as in Greek tragedies, where the flaw of the hero (hamartia) is both his/her source of strength and downfall, her unusual combination of beauty, intelligence, talent-which most probably is her one common source of success and greed- makes her wrongly-timed fatal decision impossible to want to witness. Hopefully, the damage is somewhat reversible; but no one wants to mourn someone who is still alive, so I try to avoid looking at her as much as I can.

by Kleitia Vaso