Just an excellent piece of writing! Thank you.
One question: Could the weight of Shue’s dreadful performance in this movie — always out of breath somehow — been a contributing factor to Kilmer’s diversion from success?
Some of what you wrote about Val could be said about her too: She never cultivated a personality nor did she use successes to cement a position in Hollywood.
If all John Cusak movies after Say Anything are alternative versions of how Lloyd Dobler could have turned out, so are all Shue movies versions of how Chris Parker could have turned out. Not a recipe for true stardom.