The Killing of a Sacred Deer opened at France’s Cannes Film Festival on Monday morning with a press screening which ended with a scattered bout of booing.
Australian film critic David Stratton told AAP the film had already been controversial with some raving it is in the box seat to take home the gong, while other reviews have been more circumspect.
Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, known for his extreme and bizarre style, the film follows an intense relationship between a teenage boy and a heart surgeon (Colin Farrell), which spirals out of control and drags Farrell’s wife (Kidman), teenage daughter and young son into an impenetrable game of Russian roulette.
“Yorgos would always say, ‘Nicole you’ve got to understand the tone – it’s a comedy’, and I would be like ‘uh, OK’,” Kidman said at a press conference after the screening.
“At this stage in my life I’m just trying to stay very open and be bold and try things and support filmmakers that I believe in.”
Kidman briefly reflected on growing up in Australia and “wagging school” to see A Clockwork Orange, showing her early taste for cutting-edge and challenging cinema.
“I’m a huge fan of cinema, and being in a dark room and watching a film and being transported,” she said. “I love that. And I will always love that and I’m committed to it.”
But the Australian actress admitted her latest work by Lanthimos wouldn’t be something her own children would soon be seeing.
Kidman is having something of a renaissance at Cannes, with four projects screening, two of which are up for the festival’s top prize.
Sophia Coppola’s dark thriller The Beguiled is also in competition, while Kidman’s sci-fi, punk romantic comedy How to Talk to Girls at Parties made its festival debut on Sunday.
In all three films Kidman is joined by a younger cast, and the actress is keen to help those earlier in their career.
“I’ve been doing it a long time, I’ve run the gamut, you know,” she said.
“But I emphasise I still have the passion.”
Mentors who will protect and guide young actors through their career are important, she said.
“I always offer that up to the younger generation: if you need it I am here,” Kidman said.
“I’ve worked with a lot of young actresses and actors recently and it’s a nice thing to be able to offer.”
While there are no Australian films in competition at this year’s festival, Jane Campion’s Sydney-based Top of the Lake: China Girl has the unusual honour of being the first television episode to screen in the festival’s 70-year history.
Kidman, who also stars in Campion’s offering, said she has done a lot of work in Australia recently.
“Recently I’ve been involved in a lot more there, and I’m developing something that’s set in Australia,” she said.
“But it’s hard, it’s really hard to get things made, it’s a very different time now.”