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Overall Rating
3.65

Awesome: 23.91%
Worth A Look36.96%
Average: 23.91%
Pretty Bad: 10.87%
Total Crap: 4.35%

2 reviews, 34 user ratings


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To Die For (1995)
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by Charles Tatum

"Good Gus Directing"
3 stars

Nicole Kidman stars as a local television personality who will stop at nothing to get what she wants, but it is Gus Van Sant's direction that really shines.

Kidman plays Suzanne, a none to bright woman who decides she wants to be a giant media personality. She marries Larry (Matt Dillon), a restaurateur, and settles for doing the weather at a dead end television station. Suzanne sees that Larry is not behind her career, and uses a trio of teens to kill him. She begins her plan by befriending them while shooting a documentary, then begins having sex with James (Joaquin Phoenix), who in turn conspires with Russell (Casey Affleck) and Lydia (Alison Folland). Most of the film is told in flashback by the killers and families of Suzanne and Larry, and Suzanne herself.

"To Die For" is a strange film. Acting wise, the professional cast is saddled with some really one note characters. While top heavy with supporting players, Suzanne never really changes much, or offers enough menace to feel anything for her. Dillon fades into the background as Larry, trying to hard to make him normal.

Buck Henry's screenplay is full of fits and starts, never gathering enough darkness to become a successful dark comedy, nor enough satirical edge to become a successful satire. This is a shame, since celebrity due to murderous acts is such a part of our lives today (how many of you tuned into O.J. Simpson's latest round of "exclusive" interviews?). The film never takes that final step and calls the media on the carpet, instead trying to get the viewer caught up in the mechanics of Suzanne and Jim's relationship, and Suzanne's progressively strange certainty that she will be famous.

Gus Van Sant's direction is absolutely fantastic. The interior of Larry and Suzanne's home is hysterical. His camera always finds the perfect tone of a scene, even if the scene is not especially well written. I am one of the few who did not think much of "Drugstore Cowboy," although I do appreciate many of the films Van Sant has done since.

"To Die For" gets the viewer geared up for a no punches pulled look at popular culture today, then throws in the towel before the bell even rings. I cannot recommend it, despite the fine direction, the rest is strictly a disappointment.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=2462&reviewer=325
originally posted: 06/10/04 00:15:34
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For more in the Tatum's Video Grab'nRun series, click here.

User Comments

10/16/15 David Hollingsworth A wicked timely satire that has become even more relevant today. 5 stars
3/19/13 PAUL SHORTT SKILFUL SATIRE ON THE WORSHIP OF CELEBRITY, WITH GOOD PERFORMANCES 3 stars
5/23/11 pwhite98270 boring just couldn't get into it. 2 stars
12/05/10 fmc I've worked in the media and have met other Suzannes 4 stars
8/05/09 Jeff Wilder An effective satire. 4 stars
5/25/09 art THOSE LAST FIVE MINUTE"S ARE CHILLING! 4 stars
8/12/08 Bellbonne Subtle and scathing indictment of American superficiality and idol worship on all levels- 5 stars
3/02/08 art A FANTASTIC THRILLER WITH A TWIST AT THE END THE LAST 5 MINUT 4 stars
3/30/06 John Hutchings Worth A Look. Especially at Nicole!!!. The ending seemed a bit shallow though. 4 stars
3/06/06 TheOthersFan This was the film eventually landed nicole the lead in 'The Others." small wonder. lol 4 stars
9/14/05 Solid, but neither comedy nor satire as wicked as it should have been. Indrid Cold 4 stars
8/19/05 ES Dull, silly, predictable = would not recommend 2 stars
6/14/04 MyGreenBed The type of film that's easy to either under or over rate. Let's split the difference. 3 stars
6/10/04 tatum Go, Gus! 3 stars
6/10/04 Jack Sommersby As overobvious & shallow as its protagonist. Kidman is forced rather than forceful. 2 stars
6/06/04 R.W. Welch Novel treatment of fact-based murder case, tho soundtrack is a bit annoying. 4 stars
2/02/04 Gabriela Great movie. Kidman and Phoenix are excellent. 5 stars
7/23/03 Sarah Carmichael MAD COW SEX WITH JOAQUIN!!! 5 stars
3/13/03 Shadaan Kidman made the film. Dillon's sister was good too. 4 stars
3/09/03 Jack Sommersby Been-there, done-that material. Kidman is 1-dimensional and monotonous. 1 stars
9/03/02 Sarah Colmorgen let's have sex, joaquin. 5 stars
9/03/02 Krychelle Springer -drool Joaquin- 5 stars
6/06/02 Frances The way it was filmed told the story well, love the twist @ the end. Phoenix is excellent. 5 stars
2/28/02 Alan Smithee Nicole Kidman delivers a devilishly sexy and twisted performance in a great film. 5 stars
12/19/01 Monya_t Suspense, thrills, complexity, mind-twisting plot.. what more do you need? 5 stars
12/11/01 Butterbean Kidman and Pheonix was good, but this is not a good movie 2 stars
6/14/01 Gary Without Nicole this film would be 'just average'. 4 stars
6/02/01 Basil I thought Nicole Kidman played the perfect bitch. 5 stars
3/16/01 The Bomb 69 Kidman gave a good performance but I could see the story unfold a mile away 3 stars
4/15/00 Elvisfan The real Nicole, aka Super Bitch, is in top form in this satire 5 stars
3/17/00 Cris I was highly impressed with Casey Affleck and Joaquin Phoenix. Movie coulda been better. 3 stars
1/15/00 Croweater I really hate this film. Nicole Kidman is so damned prissy I want to dunk her head in shit 2 stars
12/29/99 Anthony Ellis A film that had so much potential, but failed to deliver, in spades! 1 stars
11/19/99 bishopj@pumpkinsfan.com No one's rated this, It's really good, especially Kidman 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  08-Sep-1995 (R)
  DVD: 07-Aug-2001

UK
  27-Oct-1995 (15)

Australia
  27-Nov-1995 (MA)


Directed by
  Gus Van Sant

Written by
  Buck Henry

Cast
  Nicole Kidman
  Matt Dillon
  Joaquin Phoenix
  Casey Affleck
  Illeana Douglas
  Dan Hedaya



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