Nicole Kidman

David Thomson, Author . Knopf $24.95 (284p) ISBN 978-1-4000-4273-9

Thomson's love letter to Kidman is less a biography than a long and winding meditation on moviemaking and starmaking. Thomson attempts to chronicle the actress's personal life based on her statements to the media, her choice of roles and an interview with her, but the bulk of this account consists of his inferences and analysis, including the observation that actors project what they expect we, the public, want them to be. His angle on Kidman is a question: is she sincere in her actions and true to herself? The real question is, how much do we care? Following absorbing sections about her youth in Australia and beginnings as a talented newcomer in Hollywood, Thomson (The Whole Equation: A History of Hollywood ) constructs a time line of Kidman's movies, giving near-equal weight to her breakthrough in To Die For and her Oscar-winning role as Virginia Woolf in The Hours as to a string of duds (Birth , The Stepford Wives , The Interpreter ). For Thomson, the failures offer fertile—or, sometimes for the reader, tiresome—opportunities to reimagine casting, directing and story. Omnivorous movie buffs might appreciate Thomson's take on Hollywood, but US Weekly readers won't have the stamina for his blend of star worship and criticism. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 08/07/2006
Release date: 09/01/2006
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