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To Die For

To Die For (1995)

September. 29,1995
| Drama Comedy Crime

Suzanne Stone wants to be a world-famous news anchor and she is willing to do anything to get what she wants. What she lacks in intelligence, she makes up for in cold determination and diabolical wiles. As she pursues her goal with relentless focus, she is forced to destroy anything and anyone that may stand in her way, regardless of the ultimate cost or means necessary.


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Suzanne Stone (Nicole Kidman) is an aspiring TV personality who will do anything to be in the spotlight, including enlisting three teenagers to kill her husband.I had expected to like this one, but it just seemed okay and nothing special. Kidman is far from her best, and Matt Dillon is not given enough screen time. Seeing Casey Affleck and Joaquin Phoenix in early roles is nice, but neither really stand out all that much. Phoenix does a nice job acting like he is stupid, but it comes off as rather weak.The real redeeming feature of this film? David Cronenberg. Although he only has a minute or two on screen, the moment I saw his face I just lit up inside like a jack-o-lantern. Unfortunately, the rest of the picture couldn't compete.

Davis P

This is hands down my favorite Nicole Kidman film ever!! Nicole plays an extremely convincing career driven psychopath who uses her sex appeal to manipulate people to do just about anything she wants. Matt Dillon plays her unsuspecting husband, with whom she uses in order to get what she really wants. Then there's Joaquin Pheonix, who plays a very uneducated trailer trash high school student that becomes very infatuated with Nicole's character Suzanne. And Suzanne takes advantage of him, and uses lures him in using her sex appeal. She must earn his trust in order to get him to do whatever she so chooses. She also befriends a female high schooler, because she has resources that Suzanne can use to her advantage. It was very cool to see how her plan fell into place. The dialogue was very clever and smartly written. Nicole was the perfect choice to play this female psychopathic villain. And Joaquin was spot on with his role, a very uneducated trailer trash high schooler. This film was just so cleverly written, directed, and acted! 10/10. All the actors gave it their all, that was very evident.


Anyone who likes their comedy black will find plenty to laugh at in this hilarious story of a small-town girl who'll stop at nothing to become a famous TV news presenter. Told appropriately in the style of a television documentary, it satirizes society's obsession with fame, celebrity and television in a way that's sharp and smart but also incredibly funny. The idea to make use of flashbacks and interviews with people who talk directly into the camera is also extremely effective.One of the movie's strongest points is its dialogue, which contains lines that make an immediate impact either because of their wit or because of the way in which they succinctly encapsulate the state of mind of a young woman who thinks that "You're not anybody in America unless you're on TV. On TV is where we learn about who we really are because, what's the point of doing anything worthwhile if nobody's watching? And if people are watching, it makes you a better person".Suzanne Stone (Nicole Kidman) lives in Little Hope, New Hampshire and is determined to become a top broadcaster on TV. She's attractive, smartly dressed and thoroughly self-absorbed. Her commitment to making progress in the TV industry is so strong that, on her honeymoon, she takes time out from being with her new husband to attend an industry convention where she meets and subsequently sleeps with a top network executive. After returning home she gets an entry-level job at a local cable station where, through her persistence, she soon becomes the station's evening weather girl and also starts work on a documentary about high school kids called "Teens Speak Out".Suzanne's husband Larry (Matt Dillon) is a thoroughly nice guy who's deeply in love with her and manages his father's Italian restaurant. After being married for nearly a year, he thinks they should settle down to running the business together and raising a family. This idea doesn't sit well with Suzanne whose sole focus in life is to make it to the top in television. She decides that she needs to remove any impediments to the progress of her career and so, to that end, plans to have Larry murdered.Suzanne is very manipulative and becomes increasingly friendly with three of the students who are participating in her documentary so that she can use them to kill Larry. All three students have their problems which she exploits to achieve her ends. She seduces Jimmy (Joaquin Phoenix) who's not very bright and is supportive to Lydia Mertz (Alison Folland) who's an overweight misfit and the promise of money wins the support of their friend Russell Hines (Casey Affleck). After the murder has been successfully carried out, Suzanne's documentary seems to provide the police with some useful clues but actually convicting Suzanne for the crime proves to be impossible.The quality of the acting in this movie is so good that some of the most memorable contributions come from the supporting cast. Matt Dillon is tremendously natural as the guy who can't say no to Suzanne and says "she's it. She's the golden girl of my dreams" and Illeana Douglas as Larry's cynical sister who's not fooled by Suzanne, even for a minute, says she can describe her in four letters starting with a "c"....."cold". Dan Hedaya as Larry's Italian father makes a huge impression. He looks totally sceptical about his son's relationship with Suzanne and through most of the film looks as if he's going to explode with anger at any minute and there's also a superb cameo appearance from George Segal that's not to be missed.Importantly, Nicole Kidman is sensational in her role. The way in which she portrays her character's combination of perky attractiveness and utter ruthlessness is tremendously well balanced as is the way in which she conveys how clever she thinks she is, whilst also demonstrating convincingly that she's a complete airhead."To Die For" is a great piece of filmmaking about a tragic character who, after being seduced and corrupted by the media, became so obsessed by its superficial values that she ultimately developed into a delusional, sociopathic monster. The fact that this kind of story could be made into such a successful comedy really is a great achievement.


If you had told me that one of the greatest black comedies of the '90s was going to come from the director of Gerry and Drugstore Cowboy, I wouldn't have believed you. But man, Gus Van Sant really delivered here in what I think is easily the most unique work of his career. This isn't something that I would have expected from him at all and I really wish he would delve back into this genre because he is aces. From the genius opening credits sequence, which laces hard rock, razor-sharp editing and a fairy-tale score, you can tell that this is going to be a unique and bizarre experience.Unlike many films, Van Sant fully delivers on the promise from those opening minutes. I've never been a fan of structures that rely on using interviews with the characters to retrace the steps of the story, but I didn't seem to mind it as much here, probably due to how many laughs those interviews were able to pull out of me. It also helps that using that style plugs directly into the satire of the whole piece, a real biting commentary on the dangers and absurdity of popular media.Suzanne Stone, played with groundbreaking skill by Nicole Kidman, is one of the worst possible outcomes of our media-obsessed culture; an ignorant, vain and truly hopeless woman that couldn't be less likable if she tried. She is our plug in to the satire here and what follows is a delightfully twisted and bleak tale of a horrible woman doing horrible things. Looking up the film after watching it, I was amazed that it was actually based on true events. Van Sant creates an excellent style here, along with the help of a dreamy, unsettling and utterly hypnotizing score from Danny Elfman, but the true star is absolutely Kidman.I mentioned how I wanted Van Sant to do more films like this, but I desperately want Kidman to do more as well, because she is on fire. Suzanne Stone is an absolutely abhorrent creature and the best part of the film is that Kidman doesn't try to make her anything else. Most actresses, especially that early in their career, would feel the need to add something likable to the character or give some sort of a wink to the audience to let them know that she's in on the joke too, but Kidman goes for broke and dives into this character so completely.She's one of the most unlikeable characters I've ever seen in film, but Kidman is so absorbed in that role and the writing is so good that you can't look away from her, just having an urgent need to keep watching in the hopes that the bitch gets what's coming to her. A wickedly sharp, intelligent and brutally funny film with impressively unique work from everyone involved. It also features a David Cronenberg cameo that is my new favorite thing.