Manipulating The Message

To Die For 15

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?”

- Suzanne Stone in To Die For.

Loosely based on the notorious case of Pamela Smart who convinced her 15-year-old lover to murder her husband, director Gus Van Sant (Elephant) and screenwriter Buck Henry’s (The Graduate) pre-internet tabloid comedy has lost none of its dark edge.

Suzanne Stone (Nicole Kidman) has always dreamed of being a world-famous news anchor - indeed, she'd die to achieve celebrity. Fortunately for her, she's both determined and attractive enough to climb the network news ladder when she gets a job as a weather girl at a local cable station. So determined is she to have a career in TV that she'll stop at nothing - even befriending inarticulate teens Russell (Casey Affleck) and the totally infatuated Jimmy (Joaquin Phoenix) after her husband (Matt Dillon) suggests she take time off work to start a family. What could possibly go wrong?

It's been 22 years since Gus Van Sant blessed us with his darkly hilarious satire and yet somehow it's never felt more relevant (or irresistible). Whilst we’ll leave it to you to discover if fame-hungry Suzanne got away with her crimes, her spirit lives on in a culture today that's obsessed with selfies, reality TV, and manipulation by the media.

With thanks to Park Circus.

With an introduction by Louise Milsom, Watershed's MA in Curation student