Gus Van Sant’s crime comedy-drama “To Die For” turns 25 this year, making this mockumentary-style film way ahead of its time. “To Die For” follows Suzanne Stone, played by Nicole Kidman, a small town journalist who has big dreams about becoming the next Barbra Walters. This was one of Kidman’s first roles in Hollywood, which meant she had a lot to prove, and she did just that. Van Sant directs Kidman to stardom, mixing that with her A-list husband at the time, Tom Cruise. Kidman showed she was destined for a career that would never disappoint.
The cast is star-studded with actors such as Kurtwood Smith, Illeana Dougless, Matt Dillon, Dan Heydaya, and features a young Casey Affleck and Joaquin Phoenix. “To Die For” boasts the essential cast from any film or television show from the 1990s. Each actor fits their role well, including Kidman as Suzanne Stone. Stone is a seductively cold temptress who always gets what she wants, but the plot follows what happens when someone finally says no. She is a newlywed to Dillon’s character Larry Maretto, an alt-handsome waiter turned loving husband. Larry truly loves his wife but the audience learns early on that the sentiment is one-sided. “To Die For” has a remarkable sense of self-awareness, allowing it to never take itself too seriously. The plot is inspired by a true story which the movie took some liberty with. Nonetheless Van Sant’s film is entertaining and whimsically dark.
Boasting a score by none other than Danny Elfman, who is famous for his work on Tim Burton’s films, Van Sant has delightfully teased the course of action through sound-sinister, but angelic. Stone is dressed to perfection each day, exemplifying her ability to manipulate anyone and anything to do her bidding. Stone is a Barbie, a twisted succubus who always has a plan. Selfish and vain, Stone is seduced by the flashing lights and dreams of investigative journalism: she is the quintessential femme fatale bathed in pastels.
To say “To Die For” has aged well would be an understatement, with the exception of brief language from Affleck’s murderous, misfit character Russel. Van Sant directed a perfectly dark comedy — it is edgy, yet tasteful. “To Die For” displays Kidman’s incredible talent and iconic usage of wigs, making the film a must-see. Van Sant’s “To Die For” had potential to be a beloved 1990s classic, but has since fallen into obscurity making it a hidden gem among casual moviegoers. Twenty-five years later, “To Die For” is still a fantastic watch and makes for a great pick for a movie night during quarantine.