Reel Toronto: To Die For
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Reel Toronto: To Die For

Toronto’s extensive work on the silver screen reveals that, while we have the chameleonic ability to look like anywhere from New York City to Moscow, the disguise doesn’t always hold up to scrutiny. Reel Toronto revels in digging up and displaying the films that attempt to mask, hide, or—in rare cases—proudly display our city.

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To Die For somehow managed to shoot just about everywhere in the GTA except for Toronto. Still, we’re not above venturing out to the 905 for the sake of an actual quality film. It’s got a pre-Botox Nicole Kidman tearing it up, not to mention a damned-fine supporting cast that includes the likes of future–Oscar nominees Casey Affleck and Joaquin Phoenix.
It’s the sort of dark comedy that ain’t for everybody, but for Reel Toronto it’s just perfect.

2011 07 12porthope
The main setting is a quaint little town called Little Hope. Except it’s not really Little Hope—it’s Port Hope. You can see the entry to the town here, where Mill Street and Ontario Street converge. They shot some scenes from Tommy Boy here as well.
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Indeed, the opening of the movie consists of lovely shots of the town, including the distinctive steeples of St. John’s Anglican Church and Port Hope United Church.
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Speaking of photogenic local churches, here’s the very lovely St. Mark’s, from the same montage.
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Hey, we’ve seen this quaint bridge before. Yessirree, it was also featured briefly in In the Mouth of Madness and it’s out in West Montrose, near Waterloo.
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A lot of the more urban stuff was shot in Brampton. The TV station where Nicole Kidman gets a gig as a weather girl is this building, on George Street. This may be the only dollar store in southern Ontario where you have a chance of sensing some of Kidman’s lingering aura.
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You can see a bit more in this reverse shot featuring the always great Wayne Knight.

2011 07 12bramaleaprobably

It’s been renovated, but these mall scenes (where you can see a Blacks and a Laura Secord among other stores) were shot at The Promenade, in Thornhill.
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Another key setting is the high school where Kidman meets the three teens she’ll draft to kill her husband. So, scenes like this…
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…and this were shot at King City Secondary School.
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At the end of the flick, Nicole gets acquitted and holds a press conference here, on the steps of the Peel Heritage Complex.

2011 07 12bramptoncityhall
In this reverse shot you can make out Brampton City Hall‘s clock tower in the distance.
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Lake shots like this…
….and this were grabbed on Lake Simcoe, around Jackson’s Point.
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And, hey, it’s David Cronenberg doing a cameo as a hit man!
To Die For is a bit of a historical anomaly in that Nicole Kidman managed to be one of those rare actors who wins the Golden Globe and doesn’t get an Oscar nomination. She did, however, apparently get nominated by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films. Hmmm.
As for director Gus Van Sant, a couple of years later he would come back and forego the ‘burbs, indulging a bit more in what Toronto has to offer and getting an Oscar nomination in the process. You’re welcome, Gus!

CORRECTION: OCTOBER 4, 2013: We originally wrote that the mall pictured above appeared to be Bramalea City Centre but it’s actually The Promenade. Thanks to several commenters for pointing this out; we’ve corrected our error above.