Starring: Meryl Streep, Goldie Hawn, Bruce Willis
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Running Time: 104 mins
Death Becomes Her is an American film about two women who have lived as rivals for as long as they have known one another, when they discover a potion for eternal youth, with unexpected consequences.
I had a lot of fun with this movie. Combining a whole lot of gleefully dark comedy, action and fantasy with an interesting commentary on vanity and selfishness, Death Becomes Her is a thoroughly entertaining watch from beginning to end, with an ambitious story that does a lot more with a seemingly simple fantasy premise than you may at first expect.
Let’s start off with the film’s first act, which is perfect to get you in the mood for the rest of the movie. From the beginning, the darkly comedic atmosphere is plainly apparent, and the film starts off in brilliantly cynical fashion as we see Goldie Hawn’s long-suffering character find her latest boyfriend snatched away by Meryl Streep once again.
From then on, the film establishes its three leads very well, putting great emphasis on the vanity of their lifestyles, particularly as the story moves 14 years ahead in time over to Beverly Hills, with Bruce Willis’ plastic surgeon-turned-corpse make-up artist (there may or may not be a specific job title for that), and Meryl Streep’s aging and increasingly self-absorbed actress locking heads despite their happy marriage in the film’s opening sequence.
That first act is an excellent opening for the film, as it gets you fully in the mood for a light-hearted and silly comedy with a good few laughs here and there, yet has enough meat and depth to it that you understand its darker and more cynical aspects, as well as find some genuine intrigue in its main dramatic theme.
The movie then takes a turn towards more outlandish, fantastical elements, as we see Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn with their miraculous cure for aging, keeping them both young and beautiful against the tide of their ever-weakening figures. Now, there’s a period where the movie goes full Harry Potter, and it’s a little difficult to suspend your disbelief quite that far, but it does come back to the real world, and has some good fun playing with the newfound fantasy it’s just conjured up.
As a result, this movie does a whole lot more than I expected of it at first glance, not only using its fantasy story to great effect in furthering its analysis of the vanity and selfishness of these characters, but also with some rather surprising and modern special effects which, for 1992 at least, look pretty good – if not a little clunky at times to viewers nowadays.
However, with the film’s darkly comedic atmosphere, everything works perfectly, and you’re able to sit back and laugh at some of its more ridiculous ideas just as you get to grips with some of the things it’s trying to tell more about, and with the strong performances from Streep, Hawn and Willis, I found myself thoroughly engrossed in the bizarre relationship the trio find themselves in come the final act.
Overall, I really enjoyed Death Becomes Her. It’s a strange movie, but it’s one that’s an absolute joy to watch, with great humour and a playful and gleeful attitude throughout, furthered by a brilliant and darkly comedic atmosphere, as well as an interesting look into the lives of those who think only about themselves, which is why I’m giving it a 7.7.