Kidman won the Golden Globe award for Best Actress for her performance, and frankly I thought she should have gotten the Academy Award (unless I remember incorrectly, I don't think she was even nominated for an Academy Award for it). But she is absolutely brilliant in it: chilling, funny, scary, sexy, and horrifically evil.
Kidman portrays Suzanne Stone-Maretto: a devious, calculating, self-centered woman who manipulates Larry Maretto (a very sympathetic performance by Matt Dillon) into marrying her, quickly tires of him when he tries to stand in her way of her greatest ambition in life, which is to be the next Diane Sawyer, and soon convinces her teenage lover to kill him for her. Sound familiar? "To Die For" was loosely based on the real-life story of Pamela Smart, who seduced her 15-year old lover into murdering her husband.
Joaquin Phoenix is Jimmy Emmett, the hapless student who becomes Suzanne's lover; Lydia Mertz is Alison Follard, a young girl who idolizes her; and Casey Affleck is Russel Hines, another student who gets caught up in the scheme. Illeana Douglas is great as Larry's acidic, loving sister Janice, who also gets one of the best lines in the film, and at the very beginning, no less; and Dan Hedaya is Larry's father, Joe Maretto. Dan Hedaya is a master of the "Believe me, you don't want to see me mad" performance, with obvious menace just under a calm surface. The casting is great, and the performances are all right on target.
Look for uncredited cameos by George Segal as a conference speaker, and David Cronenberg as...you'll just have to go see it.