Death Becomes Her

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Death Becomes Her is a 1992 American dark slapstick screwball comedy fantasy film directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Goldie Hawn, Meryl Streep, and Bruce Willis. The film focuses on a childish pair of rivals who drink a magic potion that promises eternal youth.

However, after they both are killed in their fight for the love of a neurotic mortician, the potion revives them as the undead and they are forced to maintain their deteriorating bodies forever. Death Becomes Her won an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects. Despite mixed reviews, the film was a commercial success.



The film opens in 1978 on Broadway in New York City, with aging actress Madeline Ashton (Meryl Streep) on stage performing in "Songbird," an ill-conceived musical version of Sweet Bird of Youth. Aspiring writer Helen Sharp (Goldie Hawn), Madeline's longtime rival, is taking in the show with her fiancé, plastic surgeon Ernest Menville (Bruce Willis), who is the only person in the audience who appears to be enjoying himself. After the show concludes Ernest, and only Ernest, gives Madeline a standing ovation. Helen and Ernest are invited to Madeline's dressing room, where Madeline shows an interest in Ernest. One night while Ernest is prepping for surgery Madeline shows up and invites him to dinner. After arriving home Ernest tells Helen about his dinner date with Madeline. Ernest states that the dinner with Madeline was just business and nothing more. Despite Ernest's assurances to Helen that he has no interest in Madeline, the two are married within months. Seven years later (1985), Helen is an obese, depressed woman obsessed with her hatred for Madeline, and is evicted from her apartment for nonpayment of rent. After being arrested by the police during her eviction, Helen is committed to a psychiatric hospital, where she drives the other patients and doctors crazy with her constant talk about Madeline. Helen then decides to pretend she is rehabilitated and is released, all the while still plotting revenge on Madeline.

Seven more years later (1992), Madeline's career is all but over. She is living in Beverly Hills with Ernest, now a miserable alcoholic reduced to working as a high-end mortician. At a spa for a day, Madeline is given the business card of a woman who specializes in beauty and youth rejuvenation, which she thinks little of. She tears the card in half and drops it into her purse thinking no more about it. Madeline and Ernest attend the book signing party for "Forever Young," Helen's first novel, and Helen is thin, youthful, and radiantly beautiful.

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