To Die For

Everything a viewer needs to know about Gus van Sant’s 1995 film is presented in the first two minutes of the above clip. Suzanne Stone Maretto (Nicole Kidman) is a fiercely motivated weather-woman who has enlisted the help of a teenage lover to kill her unsuspecting husband Larry (Matt Dillon). Suzanne’s willingness to go to extreme lengths in order to achieve stardom (of any sort) is not necessarily an original plot line, but Kidman infuses this role with a unique brand of crazy that only she can produce.

Van Sant uses several cinematic techniques to maximize the metal instability of his characters. The dialogue of Suzanne’s evening weather report coincides perfectly with what she knows is happening back at home, concluding with her chilling “Goodnight honey.” at the end. The focus on each character’s eyes as Larry is dying emphasizes the psychosis of the respective individual- Suzanne’s eyes are sparkling with murderous intent throughout her broadcast, and Jimmy’s are glazed over in obsession with their past affair. It is, in fact, Jimmy’s character that is more notably insane, but both his and Suzanne’s neurosis are a product of an unquenchable obsession with success. Although both of them predictably ‘get theirs’ in the end, Van Sant’s film stands as a unique exploration of the modern world’s relationship to achievement and fame.

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