Check out The Knick (Original Series Soundtrack) on hoopla digital.
One wouldn’t know it based on the heat resonating from the film’s leads. Clive Owen plays “Papa” and Nicole Kidman plays Gellhorn. They meet in a Key West bar called “Sloppy Joe’s,” and their first scene together is a master class in using words as foreplay. Kaufman’s camera focuses, and not for the last time, on Kidman’s posterior, but it’s her interaction with Owen that raises the temperature. “There’s too much rum in this rum,” says Gellhorn after accepting a drink from Hemingway. “People don’t drink here to get drunk,” he says. “They drink here to stay drunk.” Gellhorn escapes with her makeup unscathed, but the seeds of desire have already been planted.
Hemingway, a seasoned vet of this type of coverage, meets Gellhorn in Spain. Clearly amused by both her inexperience and the “war correspondent” designation Gellhorn finagled out of Collier’s magazine, Hemingway takes on the role of protector and mentor. Their hotel is full of hookers and desperate men looking to cling to a warm body, and body-warming whiskey, before marching to their inevitable demise. Gellhorn meets soldiers like Brooklyn (Eric Schneider) and the goat-carrying Hungarian (Edin Gali), men whose fates contribute to pushing her passion for covering the victims of war into obsession. After risking her life to save a little boy (to whom Hemingway gives his whiskey flask), Owen looks at the camera and announces, “She’s the bravest woman I ever met!” It’s a line that’s cheesier than Wisconsin, but not out of place in a movie like this.
As Gellhorn, Kidman would appear to have an easier role to play, if only because we are not as familiar with Gellhorn as we are with Hemingway. However, this is her story, and she slings the weight of it across her shoulders and carries it to safety. This is Kidman’s best work in years, smart, brassy, funny, sexy and tough. She brings her A-game because Owen’s showier role must be legendary, a larger than life evocation of masculinity suited for the name Hemingway. Cinematographer Rogier Stoffers introduces Owen in a desaturated fishing sequence that culminates in an explosion of bright red blood. Owen’s Hemingway grabs the bull by the horns, resisting cliché just barely enough to feel the breath of caricature on his neck. His Russian Roulette pissing contest with an uncredited, equally macho and over the top Robert Duvall is a highlight of the film. Anyone with a romantic appreciation of the male gender will swoon at Owen’s constantly revealed chest hair. Everyone else can worship, as Kaufman’s camera does, at the altar of Kidman’s lower body, with its “legs that start at her shoulders.”