How does one begin a review of what is arguably the most controversial movie of the 90's? Perhaps I should start by saying that although Basic Instinct is complete trash with nothing residing beneath its glitzy surface(despite the claims of Camille Paglia there are NO subliminal meanings and the phallic symbolism of the ice pick is purely coincidental) it's also a riveting psychological thriller with Doublas and Stone providing an impressive double in a refreshingly gripping film.
I will not go deeply into plot detail, as the story is practically part of hollywood folklore, but in summary volatile cop Nick Curran(Michael Douglas) falls in love with murder suspect Catherine Trammell(Sharon Stone) who may,or may not, have brutally murdered her lover with an ice pick. If the plot sounds familiar its probably due to the fact that Basic Instinct is essentially a combination of writer Joe Eszthera's film 'Jagged Edge' and director Paul Verhoeven's film 'The Fourth Man', both of which had their fair share of sex and fashionable violence. Despite this Basic Instinct still is enjoyable and having seen either of those films will have no affect on the unpredictability of the film.
At the centre of the film is Stone's performance which is actually quite superb(though in the long run this film's been more of a curse than a blessing to her film career)as although she's easily the least probable femme fatale ever to grace(or poison to be more accurate) the silver screen, Stone plays her with such zeal that we can't take our eyes off her. That said it should also be pointed out that she becomes rather less intriguing after the first 40 minutes when she becomes involved with Michael Douglas, as her character loses a great deal of her mystique and her personality has less bite. Then of course is the infamous scene (which practically every other reviewer has mentioned and I am going to be no exception) where Tramell is being interrogated by the police and coolly turns the tables on them by exploiting their libidos and reducing them to drooling idiots, totally ridiculous but easily the film's best scene and certainly one that is not going to be soon forgotten (no doubt to the chagrin of Sharon Stone).
The rest of the cast are fine, with Michael Douglas doing the character he does best(the rather thuggish white male who constantly gets involved with the wrong kind of woman), Jeanne Tripplehorn doing an adequate job as Nick's pyschologist and George Dzunda manages to be the only half-way likable character in the movie as Curran's best(and only)friend. Unfortunately Leilani Sarelle is under-used as Catherine Trammell's enigmatic girlfriend(I forgot to mention Catherine's Bi-sexual).
The film is, of course, not without flaws. No-one (not even the director) could deny that Basic Instinct has such big plot holes you could park a car in them as for some of the events in the film to make sense characters would need to be either clairvoyant or in possession of other-worldly powers. The endings also a bit of a cop out (no I WON'T reveal it) as it was clearly engineered so that it could be easily changed with a single edit if preview audiences were unsatisfied with it.
It is also impossible to ignore the huge controversey that surrounded the films release with a particulair furor being caused by feminists and lesbians over their portrayal in the film. In truth the jury's still out on wether Basic Instinct is homophobic, but I personally don't think it is as the characters' sexuality is never really an issue although in fairness it is used as a somewhat cheap plot device to titillate the audience. The case made by feminists is much stronger as all the women in the film are portrayed as dubious and potentially dangerous. The main defence against all this is that, frankly, all the characters are unpleasent and devious , with perhaps one exception, and no discrimination is given in any way. The other issue was, of course, the sex scenes which ,although explicit, are really rather passe these days.
The film is stylishly filmed, expertly paced, brilliantly directed and has a superb music score from Jerrry Goldsmith. I'll give it a high score(by my standards) of 8 out of 10
Drama / Mystery
Drama / Mystery
A former rock star, Johnny Boz, is brutally killed during sex, and the case is assigned to detective Nick Curran of the SFPD. During the investigation, Nick meets Catherine Tramell, a crime novelist who was Boz's girlfriend when he died. Catherine proves to be a very clever and manipulative woman, and though Nick is more or less convinced that she murdered Boz, he is unable to find any evidence. Later, when Nilsen, Nick's rival in the police, is killed, Nick suspects of Catherine's involvement in it. He then starts to play a dangerous lust-filled mind game with Catherine to nail her, but as their relationship progresses, the body count rises and contradicting evidences force Nick to start questioning his own suspicions about Catherine's guilt.
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September 19, 2012 at 3:57 am