Destroyer review – Nicole Kidman gets tough as a cop on the skids | Peter Bradshaw's film of the week

In a smart and utterly absorbing performance, Kidman transforms her appearance to play an La detective brutalised by her work undercover

Director Karyn Kusama kickstarted her career in 2000 with the fierce Girlfight; she gives us a sense-memory of that picture with this bruisingly excellent La crime thriller, written for the screen by Phil Kay with Matt Manfredi.

The La they imagine has a bleak, scorched, arid look in which the sunlight is always harsh, like that seen by a daytime drinker emerging from a bar, or that same drinker waking up in his car the next morning. Production designer Kay Lee and cinematographer Julie Kirkwood create the colours and textures of this hostile world, but its overall mood is down to its star, Nicole Kidman, cast against type as Erin Bell, an Lapd detective who has become prematurely haggard and brutalised by her experiences undercover 16 years before, as a cop
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