Fawning and voyeuristic, David Thomson's paean to his screen idol fails to excite the co-author of the "Eyes Wide Shut" screenplayby Frederic Raphael / November 19, 2006 / Leave a comment
Nicole Kidman by David Thomson (Bloomsbury, £18.99)
The critic’s first duty is to seek out anything meritorious and commend it. In the case of David Thomson’s Nicole Kidman, this will not detain us long. There are some nice pics of the lady and hints of intelligent things the author might have said about the medium, if he had not been infatuated to a point beyond that which reduced Emil Jannings, in The Blue Angel, from presiding professor to drooling dupe.
The film critic is forever pressing his nose—and other parts, it seems—against the barrier between him and the medium. How touchingly often he will tell you of his meetings with the famous, who treated him as at least an equal. Every tradesman likes to imagine himself welcome at the front door. Thomson hurries to recount how he actually held hands with Tuesday Weld after she had failed to set the world on fire. He also sat on the kerb with Katie Hepburn, the most loved woman in America, while a tyre got changed. This news is made relevant to Nicole Kidman because, Thomson says here, she “often invokes Hepburn as her idol or model.” Often? Daily? Monthly? And model for what? Kidman doesn’t have a recognisable style of delivering a line and la Hepburn never flashed her ass, as Nicole—we’re all pals here, right?—first did in Dead Calm. In The Blue Room, Thomson also glimpsed Nic’s “gingery pubic hair” when she stripped, very briefly, for theatre buffs. (Hey, wasn’t Katie called “Red” by Cary in The Philadelphia Story?) If accuracy matters, the parcel passed round the ring in Schnitzler’s original Reigen was not “physical love,” as Thomson has it, but syphilis.
Our author has never met Kidman, but she did actually call him in February 2006, “like a languid, superior but amused prefect.” Thomson may live in LA but the English mark is on him: in his mid-sixties, he still wears the cap and blazer of the naughty boy who rather wants the prefect to call him to his study and—you never know your luck—ask him to bend over. Thomson so wants to be the intimate of those whose world he tramps and tracks. If they won’t let him in, he will fantasise what he might have done for them by re-editing their movies, rejigging their script or (assuming his wife is OK with this) banging them to rights.