Kidman inhabits the lead character of Suzanne Stone (yes, Suzanne Stone) with such sly and delicious zest that we can only wonder why this aspect of her acting has been buried under blonde dramatic ambitions.
Kidman grabs center stage and never relinquishes the position. Playing mercilessly against her pinup girl image, she's an unforgettable, comic archetype—a more slapsticky corollary to William Hurt's bumbling, handsome newscaster in "Broadcast News."
The most accurate assault against the media age since "Network," To Die For's killer lines and wicked sensibility are given added poignancy by the off-center, sensitive performance of Joaquin Phoenix, River's younger brother, the only person more deluded about Suzanne than she is about herself.
Nicole Kidman does the best work of her career in a character that seems to fit her tighter than pantyhose. Swathed in camera-friendly pastels, she's dead from the neck up (a scene with uncredited George Segal confirms that) but she's got legs like scissors, ambition like a knife, and a will of pure steel.
This film by Gus van Sant is based on the ambitions of Suzanne Stone, a weather girl from a local TV station who wants to achieve fame and success at any cost. When her rich husband becomes a problem, she decides to arrange a lover to kill him. A simple plot, but with good premises for what Van Sant wanted: a kind of black comedy about sex, ambition and manipulation. He skillfully presents most of the film as a documentary, using cinematography and some visual and sound tricks to give more authenticity to that illusion. Nicole Kidman carries the film in her back with grace and malice, and seems very ease with her character, a girl who uses all the weapons to get what she wants. The remaining actors make a good supporting work, but are completely overshadowed by her talent.
This movie is likely to appeal to black humor lovers. It's not a thriller or mystery movie, it's all pretty obvious to the public since the beginning. However, Kidman's performance is already a reason to make the film worth watching.