Nicole Kidman, barbie barjo in her first major role

The Nicole Kidman tornado ravages everything in its path in Ready for everything, Gus Van Sant’s not-so-mainstream black comedy. And you are not ready!

At Gus Van Sant, we don’t really have the wind in our sails or popularity on his side. His filmography is on the contrary an ideal refuge for “outsiders” of all persuasions, from the solitary nomad to the student who feels bad about himself. Everyone drags his wave in the soul like a cursed poet like Arthur Rimbaud or Paul Verlaine. When the filmmaker agrees to direct Ready for everything under the wing of Columbia Pictures, it is hard to believe that his fiercely independent spirit, at the origin of films such as Drugstore Cowboy et My Own Private Idahowill comply with the dictates of the studio.

And yet the transplant operates, so much Van Sant knows how to impose himself with a freedom as remarkable as that of his characters. For Ready for everything, he adapts the eponymous book by Joyce Maynard, itself inspired by a sordid news item, and reveals Nicole Kidman in a leading role as well as a gaggle of young actors including Joaquin Phoenix and Casey Affleck. Everything then seems to come together, budget included (20 million dollars), in order to achieve a pure calibrated product. But as it stands, it is perhaps one of the most virulent satires on the smokescreen that is Hollywood.

Miss Stone and her driver


In just a few shots, the director introduces us to a small, snowy haven of peace by the sweet name of Little Hope. We then dread the nice fable of Christmas when suddenly, everything goes haywire. Scandalous press headlines fill the screen with zooms in and out, and we quickly understand that the person responsible for all this frenzy is Suzanne Stone (Kidman obviously), accused of the murder of her husband, Larry Maretto ( Matt Dillon). And cut short the suspense (news item obliges): she is arch-guilty.

To extol the merits of Van Sant alone here would amount to omitting the obvious contribution of screenwriter Buck Henry, who made a name for himself by signing the screenplay for the Winner by Mike Nichols (rather solid as an introduction), and the acerbic tone of Ready for everything owes him a lot. But the star of the film, the one who really shines for the first time, is Kidman. “I had seen Nicole in Calme Blanc […] and the movies she had done with Tom Cruise. Nothing really indicated that she was cut out for the film. But she was so enthusiastic and candid during our phone conversation; she said she was destined to play this role“, said Van Sant in an interview with the site IndieWire.

Ready for anything : photo, Nicole KidmanNo, you don’t wanna know what she’s up to

Falsely ingenuous (her candy pink outfits and her dwarf spitz serve as powder in the eyes) and true manipulator (you have to hear her reclaiming slogans worthy of an electoral campaign), Suzanne is the catalyst of attention and as the center of gravity, she conditions Van Sant’s staging. Sometimes slick and faithful to the postcard imagery of the sets, sometimes more experimental, evoking the director’s underground roots, the aesthetic does indeed combine the chic and shocking temperament of the character, nicknamed “Miss Bulldozer” by her boss, manager of a small local news channel.

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