Nicole Kidman is a movie star.

Hey, I forgot, too.

For too long, the actress hasn't played to her strength: steely women who race through the Wild West, hold their own during the Civil War and persuade teenagers to commit murder.

Kidman rediscovers her true grit in "Hemingway & Gellhorn," playing Martha Gellhorn, a war correspondent who could belly up to the bar with Ernest Hemingway, which is a little like climbing into the ring with Mike Tyson and living to tell about it.

Kidman practically swaggers through the role, channeling Lauren Bacall to such a degree that I almost expected her to ask co-star Clive Owen if he knows how to whistle.

Hemingway is the more colorful and familiar figure, and Owen is just fine displaying the author's fire, especially when he challenges a Russian officer (an unbilled Robert Duvall) to a round of Russian roulette, simply because he asked Gellhorn to dance.

But this is a showcase for Kidman, her finest performance since 2003's "Cold Mountain." It's no small task to believe that such a beauty with porcelain skin and radiant red hair would be tough enough to ride a tank to get to the front lines or ignore a collapsing hotel as she ravishes her lover. But you never doubt that Kidman is up to the task.

A few more performances like this, and no one will need to remind you that she's a true star.