Not yet 40, still at the peak of her fame, Nicole Kidman hardly seems ready for a serious biography — she’s more at the unauthorized quickie stage of her life. But tell that to author David Thomson, who has seized this moment in history to take stock of Kidman’s career, and gauge her place in the Hollywood pantheon. The result, Nicole Kidman, is a curious kind of gonzo bio: It’s sort-of authorized (he did talk to her during the writing) and its intentions are clearly serious. Yet this book is a flimsy construct: Most of the reporting is secondhand; most of the insights, speculative. ”I doubt that a 10 year marriage found only one reason for its rupture,” he writes of the Kidman-Tom Cruise divorce, echoing the sentiments of just about every celebrity rag circa the turn of the millennium.
In other words, Thomson doesn’t tell us much about Kidman that we didn’t already know. But then, this isn’t so much a life story as a decidedly subjective critical appreciation, built on Thomson’s premise that our deepest connection to movies is the one we make with the actors on screen. He attempts to use Kidman’s rise to stardom to illustrate his point — but all he really proves here is that he loves Nicole Kidman! He’s an unabashed fan and he lets it show: in his unreserved enthusiasm for her ”bottom,” in his conjecture that, up close and personal, the real Kidman is probably ”as fragrant as spring, as ripe as summer, as sad as autumn?” and, most weirdly, in his full-blown imaginings of what such film classics as Rebecca and Belle Du Jour would have been like if they had starred Kidman. ”In a way, the best admiration we can give her is to imagine other parts she might play,” he writes. ”That is adding to her creative soul.” Huh?
Thomson is a noted film critic and historian, and it’s hard to know what possessed him to gush away like this. Hey, we all get our celluloid crushes, but who devotes a whole book to them? Only a man obsessed — or a man so full of himself that he thinks we want to hear about it.