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To Die For (1995)

Reviewed on 2008 March 25

Every time I watch this Gus Van Sant black comedy, I feel like I notice something new.

Suzanne Stone (Nicole Kidman) is an aspiring newsanchor, who wants nothing more than to be on television, and heaven help anyone who gets in her way. Her cheery quasi-’60s wardrobe and bright smile mask the fact that she’s a human cure for global warming, something to which her smitten husband Larry Maretto (Matt Dillon) is oblivious. In fact, you can hear the IQs of most men plummet when Suzanne walks into a room, a fact which, despite the fact that she’s not Mensa material either, isn’t lost on her. Her sister-in-law Janice (Illeana Douglas) is suspicious of Suzanne from the beginning, and we get the feeling that Larry’s parents (Maria Tucci and Dan Hedaya) have misgivings from the start even though they are very gracious to Suzanne.

Suzanne sinks her over-manicured nails into anything that will further her career and discards anything that won’t. This includes people. When Larry decides he thinks she should put aside her ambitions and help him with the family business, we know she’s not going to sit still for this.

Nicole Kidman is amazing as Suzanne, and while you hate the character you can’t take your eyes off her. Watch the first sequence when she’s in the school. The boys, of course, are fascinated with her, but the reaction of the girls is priceless — they can see right through her. (That’s what struck me when I watched it this time, and I thought it was hilarious.) Illeana Douglas was fabulous as Janice. In addition to good acting, the editing is very good and the soundtrack works too. All this and a vicious little script from Buck Henry make this a favorite of mine.

Three chocolate morsels, and something that’s deceptively sweet and laden with cutesy garnishes.

Shukti

morsel morsel morsel

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