6.5/10
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190 user 66 critic

Death Becomes Her (1992)

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2:10 | Trailer

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When a woman learns of an immortality treatment, she sees it as a way to outdo her long-time rival.

Director:

Robert Zemeckis
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Popularity
1,863 ( 632)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 16 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Meryl Streep ... Madeline Ashton
Bruce Willis ... Ernest Menville
Goldie Hawn ... Helen Sharp
Isabella Rossellini ... Lisle Von Rhuman
Ian Ogilvy ... Chagall
Adam Storke ... Dakota
Nancy Fish ... Rose
Alaina Reed-Hall ... Psychologist (as Alaina Reed Hall)
Michelle Johnson ... Anna
Mary Ellen Trainor ... Vivian Adams
William Frankfather ... Mr. Franklin
John Ingle ... Eulogist
Clement von Franckenstein ... Opening Man
Petrea Burchard ... Opening Woman
Jim Jansen ... Second Man
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Storyline

In 1978, in 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 fiancé 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

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Your basic black comedy. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Fantasy | Horror

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some nudity and off-color humor | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

31 July 1992 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

La muerte le sienta bien See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$55,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$58,422,650

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$149,000,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby SR

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In a UK television interview, Meryl Streep was asked about this uncharacteristic role, and she replied that it was too original to pass up. See more »

Goofs

Gallons of water flow out of Helen's new hole, but there's nowhere it could have come from. Her upper torso has not been hollowed out. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Opening Man: [leaving the theatre in the rain] Can you believe that? A musical version of "Sweet Bird of Youth."Who are they kidding?
Opening Woman: Thank God you wanted to leave...
Second Woman: Can you believe Madeline Ashton? Talk about waking the dead.
Second Man: I gotta get a drink...
[zoom in on discarded playbill featuring Madeline Ashton]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Clapping for the Wrong Reasons (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

Me
Written by Geoff Aymar
Lyrics by Martin Donovan & David Koepp
Arranged by William Ross
Performed by Meryl Streep (uncredited)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Witty satire cleverly done
11 February 2004 | by melwynSee all my reviews

I must have seen this film about 15 or so times now. I love the vain, shallow characters of Madeline and Helen who are the ultimate example of what might happen if you took the advice of our "obsessed-with-perfection" media to its illogical conclusion. Meryl and Goldie play their parts with unrestrained enthusiasm, pushing them to the limit to emphasise that these two who believe they are truly beautiful are, after all, just caricatures of perfection.

Like Icarus, Mad and Hell take no advice and pursue the unattainable regardless of the cost. That they see every mountainous obstacle as a mere minor inconvenience helps reinforce the humour of the film. Bruce Willis is marvellous as Ernest, the unhappy mouse caught in the middle of their game; the voice of reason amid lunacy.

The writing is witty and sometimes painfully sharp, emphasising in almost every scene that beauty does not equal happiness, and the closer you come to attaining an obsessively pursued physical perfection, the further you get from real happiness and fulfillment. Stylistically our attention is focused on this concept over and over again, with mirrors and reflections used very creatively throughout the film.

We don't see a lot of clever satire these days, which is a pity. This is a fabulous film.


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