Usually I don’t like Gus Van Sant, but he is starting to grow on me.
Suzanne Stone (Nicole Kidman) has always harbored one dream: being on TV. She’s dead-set on making that dream come true, but there’s one hitch: her husband (Matt Dillon), who just wants her to stay at home. So, Suzanne puts in motion a plan to get him out of the way — for good. Joaquin Phoenix co-stars as the love-struck teenager Suzanne recruits to help execute her sinister plot — and her spouse.
So needless to say, this is probably one of the best Dark comedies ever made. It really does have every element that is so bleak and upsetting, and is then shadowed away with this great element of comedy.
But the film isn’t as much as a dark comedy as it is a satire on how people can get so overcome with this emotion of being famous and gaining stardom, that we almost forget what are real lives are all about. It is so dark and so satirical, that at points it comes out being so mean, and this is a good thing.
The screenplay written by Buck Henry really does contain some of the funniest but also terribly true pop culture references. Its writing is so intentionally funny that at points I couldn’t help but just to laugh at the jokes, that I totally forgot how dark this material really was after all.
Director Gus Van Sant uses a clever method of working backwards: The key characters in the story are interviewed, following a shocking local event, with flashbacks of the incidents as the interviewee’s recall them. At first I thought this technique was distracting, but I soon embraced it. He honestly cannot stop but make one terrific visual after another, with sometimes colors so bright they are actually scary, as scary as Suzanne the main character.
The film had a bit of problems with what it wanted to be though. It looked like it was going to act as dark comedy, media satire or clear-cut thriller. I didn’t know what its intentions were to be which is why I kind of had a hard time understanding what to expect.
Nicole Kidman knocks this performance right out of the park. She is sexy, scary, aggressive, and so devious, but you can’t but to just love this character that she does. This is her best performance of all-time and I was actually shocked by how good she really was. The supporting cast is good as well most notably Joaquin Phoenix, who is so young but still so great as a this young kid still being taken advantage of. The only problem I had with this film was that I wanted to see a bit more of how Matt Dillon acted and how he and his wife did interact with each other, we never really got that other than just a couple of scenes.
Consensus: To Die For is darkly hilarious and satirically-true, and is backed with an amazing performance from Kidman, which ends in being one of Van Sant’s best.