January 31, 2023

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‘Nicole Kidman – Eyes Wide Open’ documentary explores actor’s quest as ‘Lonely Warrior’

6 min read

A preview of Patrick Baudet’s documentary “Nicole Kidman – Eyes Wide Open,” produced by Valérie Montmartin at Little Big Story and ARTE France, generated significant buzz at the Unifrance Rendez-Vous with French Cinema in Paris.

Baudet has written and directed dramas and documentaries for France television, art, M6 and radio, and his previous project was the TV movie “La Vie de Brian Jones” about the Rolling Stones guitarist.

“Kidman” collects shots from the actor’s films and combines select interviews with him, including a 2012 audio interview with French film critic Michel Ciment, with new interviews Baudet recorded with director Gus in Los Angeles, New York, London and Paris. Reinforced by Van Sant and John Cameron Mitchell, actor Charlotte Lipinska and Cement, along with critics Anna Smith and Variety’s Peter DeBruge.

The film shows how Kidman moved from Australia to Hollywood to escape the “tall poppy syndrome” that stifles talent. It explores the interrelationships between Kidman’s personal and professional lives, shows how she uses her star power to take on challenging roles, and shows how her role in Van Sant’s 1995 satirical black comedy “To Die For” marked a new direction in her career. .

Director John Cameron Mitchell — who starred Kidman in the 2010 drama “Rabbit Hole,” for which she received an Oscar nomination, and her 2017 sci-fi romantic comedy “How to Talk to Girls at Parties” — commented: “Some There’s a quest-like about him. Heroic. With all his characters, even if they’re small people, there’s a weird sort of lone warrior about them.”

Boudet and Montmartin spoke diversity About the project.

What attracted you both to this project?

Montmartin: ARTE has a slot dedicated to leading actors and filmmakers, and Nicole is one of the best living actresses. He works in both mainstream and auteur films. She is a feminist and has been able to express herself in these questions. All these complications made me make this film.

Does the documentary include a new interview with Kidman?

Montmartin: no In general, he avoids talking in depth about the underlying connection between his life and work, which is what the documentary is about. But he is not against making a film about him. We were lucky enough to speak with French film critic Michel Ciment, who conducted an extensive audio interview with him at Cannes in 2012. We use these recordings and other interviews to tell his own story, supplemented by new interviews with people who worked with him and knew him well.

How do you see Kidman as an artist?

Baudet: My main goal is to show that Nicole is not only an actor, but also a writer, a creator. He has no ambition to write or direct, but through his films he expresses something that touches him and expresses his view of the world. Strangely, he created a mirror work that tells us about his life. He inspires directors and writers. And because he wants to experiment, he looks for directors who are underground, independent, who have their own personal universe. He also wants to experience certain limits, which are not his own, but the psychological limits of the female characters he portrays.

How do you see his body work as a whole?

Baudet: I realized that there was an underlying theme running through her work, an epistemology if you will, of a female character who is effectively imprisoned. We see this theme throughout his work, for example in one of his early films, “Dead Quiet”, where he is a prisoner of a psychopath, or “Big Little Lies”, where he lives a captive life, first socially and then domestically, this theme is his blockbuster. The films also come up, of course, with many sub-themes such as in “Portrait of a Lady”, where she effectively imprisons herself. Hollywood films are often set around male actors. Nicole reversed that. For example, with the “Big Little Lies” series, he read the book and said to the author: If you give me the rights, I promise you that this project will be made. He is the producer of many other projects, which are a way to free himself and take power. He looks for directors who have a very independent universe of their own.

How did you approach the link between his personal and professional life?

Baudet: I wanted to avoid the gossip-based approach. One of the great mysteries of Nicole’s work, like that of certain artists, writers or painters, is that there are many parallels between her life and work. For example, when he made “Eyes Wide Shut,” Stanley Kubrick took inspiration from Nicole and Tom Cruise’s relationship. He was constantly rewriting the script. He reached a point where the film took on a life of its own, inspired by their relationship, but separate from it. Eventually, the film created a psychodrama as they soon separated. Nicole uses cinema to question her own identity. He also talked about how he entered into a depression after his divorce and channeled this experience into “The Hours”. She began to take on more challenging roles, such as “Dogville” and then “Birth”, which is incredible, where she falls in love with a child who claims to be the reincarnation of her dead husband. When he remarried in 2006, I think it gave him the stability to create his own production company “Blossom Films” and take on more extreme roles, filming John Cameron Mitchell’s “Rabbit Hole” or Lee’s “The Paperboy.” Daniels.

How do you think growing up outside the United States has affected his work?

Baudet: Nicole is Australian, which brings her closer to a European identity. I don’t think an American actor would have wanted to take on the same challenging role. When she made it to Hollywood, she got caught up in Tom Cruise’s publicity machine. But he quickly tired of mainstream Hollywood movies, as he made films like “Batman Forever” and looked for other roles. Cruz was exemplary – in terms of his support for her. Before becoming a blockbuster actor, he also had an important period of independent cinema with films like “Mission: Impossible”. It was around this time that his role in Gus Van Sant’s “To Die For” came up. Gus had someone else in mind, but Nicole called him and said I was born for this role. And he was amazing in the film. Which marked a new chapter in his career.

In the documentary, you talk about his inspiration from literature.

Montmartin: She was very intelligent and as a girl was always reading books. Michelle Cement explains in the film that she has read many great Anglo-Saxon classics – Charlotte Brontë, Emily Brontë, Emily Dickinson, George Eliot and more. He absorbed those influences. This is evident in a film like “The Hours”, for which he won an Oscar She is inspired by the great heroines of literature. Even in a mainstream film like “Betwitched,” he brings an inner conflict to the role.

Is Nicole Kidman aware of this project?

Baudet: He knows it is being produced and will be broadcast in Australia on two channels, including one in primetime. I don’t know what his reaction will be. But the film is very positive about his work and overall it is very respectable. It is important to note that there are many more female directors in Europe than in Hollywood, which highlights the importance of an actor like Nicole, who opens up new perspectives. We’re living in a moment, just like the TV series “Big Little Lies,” where women are liberating themselves. But there are still many barriers, and Nicole is one of those people who is helping both through her roles and her specific actions, such as working with female directors, such as Karine Kusama for “Destroyer” and Andrea Arnold in Season 2 of “Big Little.” False.” I hope this project sheds light on its impact.

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