Suzanne Stone is an aspiring TV personality who will do anything to be in the spotlight- including enlisting 3 teenagers to kill her husband.
Acclaimed arthouse director Gus Van Sant regains some of the ground lost by the disastrous Even Cowgirls Get The Blues with this crafty, extremely well-timed black comedy on infamy and TV celebrity, based on the novel by Joyce Maynard and centered on a revelatory performance from Nicole Kidman as the pretty princess who is really the wicked witch.
Kidman plays Suzanne Maretto, a smalltown girl so obsessed with television and her craving for fame that she triumphs in what should be her downfall. The film opens with the media stampede when Suzanne is arrested for her husbands murder and via a series of monologues-to-camera Suzanne relates her story from the perspective of a pert, utterly confident, subtly moronic, cold-blooded fantasist.
The film also cuts to other characters to provide different vantage points, including those of the dead mans sister (Ilena Douglas) and a trio of braindead teenagers led by Joaquin Phoenixs randy loser Jimmy, seduced into getting rid of Suzannes husband for her. Playing nifty tricks with time, lighting, design, and film stock (videotape segments were shot by Kidman in character), the narrative flows between their recollections and reconstructions, chronicling Suzannes determined ascent to rinky-dink recognisability as the local cable-channels inexpert weatherperson and the deterioration of her marriage to adoring, ordinary working stiff Larry (Dillon).
The result is sharply pointed and cruelly funny (with a brilliant, killer punchline to the tale involving a cameo from David Cronenberg). The supporting players, notably Douglas and Dan Hedaya, excel, but above all this is Kidmans moment, her timing and feel for the irony of the character is scarily spot-on.
Shocking and timely look at a the age of TV