Fans turn on Kidman after yet another film flops

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The Independent Culture

Half a century and two remakes after the cult classic first hit cinema screens, the latest film version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers is unlikely to be remembered as fondly as the original.

Instead, Invasion, released yesterday, may go down as the beginning of the end for the Hollywood A-lister, Nicole Kidman.

The Australian, a veteran of 44 films who, last year, became the highest-paid woman in the film industry, has received scathing criticism from many of her loyal fans for a string of uninspiring performances and her dismal choice of roles in recent films.

In the latest, the third rehashing of the 1956 hit, Kidman stars alongside the James Bond star Daniel Craig. The film was lambasted by critics in the US after its release in August. The reviews were so poor that Warner Bros cancelled a scheduled press screening in the UK.

Kidman stars as a psychiatrist, Carole Bennell, who with her colleague Ben Driscoll (Craig) must combat the invasion of a killer extra-terrestrial infection brought to earth by the crash of a mysterious space craft. The infection deprives those who have it of sleep, eventually draining them of all emotion. Bennell, once infected, must strive to stay awake so she can save her missing son.

According to many who have seen the film, staying awake is a challenge for the audience too. Even Kidman's fans are openly dismayed, not least because this is the last in a long line of consecutive box-office flops. Her last acclaimed hit, Cold Mountain, was released back in 2003. One critic, writing on cinematical.- com blog, said that "Kidman is, of late, taking a wrecking-ball to her film career with one inexcusably awful choice after the other and practically daring fans to turn away from her". In the blog's comment section, many fans seemed to agree. One wrote: "She seems to be floundering, but it's got nothing to do with her acting." Another was harsher, saying: "She is no longer attractive, and she hasn't had a good movie in years, more than a decade I think". Another fan claims: "Nicole is overpaid and I don't know why studios keep hiring her".

Sarah Kelly, 24, a lifetime Kidman fan from Hull, and member of the "Nicole Kidman Fans Forever!" group on the social networking site Facebook, said "She's taking these obscure, unconventional roles too far. She keeps going for strange, dark scripts, rather than having fun as she used to. Birth [2004] was absolutely awful".

Kidman's much-maligned performance in Invasion comes after repeated failures in other cinematic remakes, notably The Stepford Wives, Bewitched (2005). Her performances in Fur (2006), Birth (2004), and The Human Stain (2003) were widely considered unexceptional, and in recent times only her vocal performance in the computer-animated comedy Happy Feet (2006) was almost totally free of criticism.

It is all a far cry from the heady days of her on and off-screen romance with Tom Cruise, whom she starred alongside in the motor racing romantic drama Days of Thunder (1990), and promptly married. She divorced Cruise a few weeks short of their 10th wedding anniversary.

Star turns in Eyes Wide Shut (1999), Moulin Rouge (2000) and, in particular, The Hours (2002) consolidated Kidman's reputation as a formidable and versatile actress. But her latest, described by Empire magazine as "mostly pedestrian, predictable, and riven with continuity errors", is unlikely to help.