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Film: To Die For

"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 Maretto

To Die For is a 1995 Black Comedy directed by Gus Van Sant. The film is an incredibly dark satire on celebrity obsession. Nicole Kidman plays Suzanne Stone Maretto, a beautiful and ruthlessly ambitious (if not particularly talented or overly bright) young woman desperate to become a world famous news anchor, even if she has to commit murder along the way.

Though not a box office success the film was praised by critics and has become a minor Cult Classic. It earned $21,284,514 in the United States market, the 77th most successful film of its year. Kidman earned her first Golden Globe for her role and many fans still rank it with some of her best work (and certainly her best comedy).

The film also starred Matt Dillon, and the then unknown Joaquin Phoenix in one of his first major roles.


This film provides examples of:

  • Ambition Is Evil: Suzanne's manaical desire to make it in TV leads her to murder.
  • Black Comedy: The entire plot is played for very dark laughs with Suzanne's ruthless personal ambition contrasting with her own vapidity and the shallowness of her goals.
  • Blondes are Evil: Suzanne, though she doesn't realize so much about her evil ways...
  • Bouquet Toss: Subverted when bridesmaids Janice and Suzanne's sister deliberately ignore Suzanne's tossed bouquet.
  • Brainless Beauty: Suzanne is gorgeous (and willing to use her looks to manipulate others) but at the very least extremely Book Dumb if not outright stupid.
  • The Cameo: David Cronenberg as a Mafia hitman.
  • Casting Couch: Its strongly implied that Suzanne has sex with a man on her honeymoon because she believes he can help her career. He doesn't.
  • Casting Gag \ Hypothetical Casting: In the novel, Suzanne Stone Maretto states onshe would like to see "that actress that just got married to Tom Cruise in real life" play her in a movie about this. Well...
  • The Ditz: Most characters actually. Suzanne would be The Ditz in any other movie but next to Larry and Jimmy...
  • Dumb Blonde: As noted under Brainless Beauty the blonde Suzanne is a bit of an airhead.
  • Favors for the Sexy: Suzanne and Jimmy. And truly dark favors.
  • Fainting: Janice faints while learning her brother had been killed.
  • Fauxlosophic Narration: Suzanne - played for laughs.
  • Hot Scoop: Suzanne is indeed a sexy TV news reporter.
  • Karma Houdini: Subverted. The cops gain evidence on Suzanne via Lydia wearing a wire but her lawyer gets it declared inadmissible in court because it was acquired through entrapment. Then the acquitted Suzanne goes too far painting Larry as a drug addict which causes his father-in-law to order a hit on her.
  • Kick the Dog: Averted although it didn't look good for Waldo when the hitman took him and Suzanne for a ride.
  • It's All About Me: Psychologists agree that Suzanne is eligible for a diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder.
    • Playing "All By Myself" at her husband's funeral was a poor choice.
  • The Mafia (Played with: Suzanne's father's fears that her Italian-American husband comes from a Mafia family are intended to come across as ridiculous and borderline racist. turns out they are a Mafia family but they only react when Suzanne has a man killed, and then the only person they hurt is Suzanne herself in revenge.)
  • Nice Guy: Larry is a very nice guy.
  • Playing Against Type: Nicole Kidman as a sociopathic airhead.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Suzanne thinks she's something special.
  • Stepford Smiler: Rarely are Suzanne's smiles real.
  • The Stinger: Janice figure skates triumphantly over Suzanne's icy grave as "Season of the Witch" plays.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: Suzanne is convinced she's one. The reality is otherwise.
  • The Unfair Sex: Averted with the heartless character of Suzanne.
  • The Unfavorite: Suzanne appears to get a lot more attention from her father than her sister does.
  • The Vamp: Played with; Suzanne has the ruthlessness and the looks but lacks the brains to pull it off properly — her 'seduction' and 'manipulation' are hilariously ham-fisted and obvious. Luckily her targets are even dumber than she is.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story (Was inspired by the real-life Pamela Smart case)
  • Villain Protagonist: Suzanne, a heartless murderess is the protagonist (and narrator.)


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alternative title(s): To Die For
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