Death Becomes Her
Death Becomes Her
1992. Directed By Robert Zemeckis.
On the surface, Death Becomes Her comes off as a shallow, almost caustic tale of the price of vanity, and as a result, divided critics at the time of its release. Upon a revisit, the film delivers something with far more impact.
A visual effects bonanza, Ken Ralston's vaudeville macabre visuals beat out the likes of Batman Returns and Alien 3 with a mind bending, hilarious interpretation of the living dead.
Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn are both in great comedic form, but it's their portrayal of vulnerability and pride that are the showcase. The film, while a comedy, has some very honest things to say about how women, especially movie stars, are treated as they age and both Hawn and Streep put the issue on horrifying display.
Rounding out the feminine trio is the timeless Isabella Rosselini as the leader of the Undead elite and her casting could not be more perfect. Her performance as Lisle Von Rhoman conjures her Blue Velvet role and this is almost certainly with intent.
Martin Donovan and David Koepp's smart script allows each of the characters to play mercilessly off one another, while also delivering a powerful feminist commentary without preaching. It's through laughter and terror that the message is delivered and it works.
The always great Alan Silvestri delivers a perfect companion in the film's score, hitting the same genre blender of comedy and horror with ever note.
However, it is Bruce Willis that steals the show. In one of his best roles, Willis plays the broken, alcoholic Ernest, the albatross trophy that the lead characters are fighting for. The fact that it is his trade as a mortician that makes him so desirable (his ability to touch up their corrupted bodies) makes Willis' hilariously inept performance all the more intimate.
One of the film's biggest symbols comes from Willis using acrylic spray paint to cover blemishes on the bodies of the Undead, essentially covering lost stardom with cheap graffiti and it is this concept that makes Death Becomes Her an important entry in the anti-glamour genre of film.
Available on Amazon, Vudu, & Itunes for streaming rental.