In 1978, on Broadway, the decadent and narcissist actress Madeline Ashton is performing Songbird, based on Tennessee Williams' Sweet Bird of Youth. Then she receives her rival Helen Sharp, who is an aspiring writer, and her fiancee Ernest Menville, who is a plastic surgeon, in her dressing-room. Soon Menville calls off his commitment with Helen and marries Madeline. Seven years later, Helen is obese in a psychiatric hospital and obsessed in seeking revenge on Madeline. In 1992, the marriage of Madeline and Menville is finished and he is no longer a surgeon but an alcoholic caretaker. Out of the blue, they are invited to a party where Helen will release her novel Forever Young and Madeline goes to a beauty shop. The owner gives a business card of the specialist in rejuvenation Lisle Von Rhuman to her. When the envious Madeline sees Helen thin in a perfect shape, she decides to seek out Lisle and buys a potion to become young again. Further, she advises that Madeline must take care of ...Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
For the majority of the movie, Madeline wears white or black and Helen wears red. The one exception was in Helen's fantasy sequence, in which Madeline wore a red dress and she wore a white dress. This is shown in one of the film's main promotional posters. See more »
Helen has had a hole blown through her stomach by the time the "shovel fight" has begun. As Ernest leaves the scene, you see the shadows of the women fighting, only now the hole is in Madeleine's shadow, not Helen's. See more »
[leaving the theatre in the rain]
Can you believe that? A musical version of "Sweet Bird of Youth."Who are they kidding?
Thank God you wanted to leave...
Can you believe Madeline Ashton? Talk about waking the dead.
I gotta get a drink...
[zoom in on discarded playbill featuring Madeline Ashton]
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I never saw "Death Becomes Her" when it first come out because of a review I had read somewhere. The review was dismissive and made a lot of sense, so I decided to give it a miss. What a terrible mistake! This is a movie I would love to see on a big screen. The script is so brilliantly clever. Disguised as a silly comedy there is a world of serious themes executed by a knowing cast. Meryl Streep in particular, playing convincingly an actress without talent. I remember the bad review criticized the writers for setting the story in a rainy, stormy Los Angeles when California was going through a drought. Imagine if a comedy about magic potions should worry about the accuracy of the weather. In fact the Los Angeles of "Death Becomes Her" feels more like Los Angelers than most realistic movies and it does it with nerve and wit. "In 12 years in Los Angeles have you ever seen a neighbor?" screams Meryl to his mousy Bruce. An absolute delight. Other hidden treasures are a cameo from Sidney Pollack and a very funny and very sexy "76 years old" Isabella Rossellini. A new cult classic and a total must.
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