Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Basic Instinct


Basic Instinct; Erotic thriller, USA/ France, 1992; D: Paul Verhoeven, S: Michael Douglas, Sharon Stone, George Dzundza, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Denis Arndt, Leilani Sarelle, Wayne Knight, Stephen Tobolowsky

Detective Nick Curran is in a turbulent relationship with psychiatrist Beth Garner, constantly smokes and drinks, whereas his colleagues from the San Fransisco police department are not in the best terms with him. Then a new case emerges: some rock singer was killed by an ice-pick and the main suspect is Catherine Tramell whose latest novel contains the exact same description of the murder. They let her go due to lack of evidence, while Nick falls for her and they spend the night together. Their relationship is strained since she is bisexual and also sleeps with the juvenile Roxie. Roxie tries to kill Nick with a car, but misses and dies. In the end, Beth is accused of the crime and killed. But under Catherine's bed there is still an ice-pick.

Calculated controversies brought a great deal of hype to "Basic Instinct" on their premiere and assured it a huge commercial success, at the same time creating a new star: Sharon Stone, who accepted the tricky role of the ambiguous and passionate Catherine Tramell when half of Hollywood's famous actresses already turned it down in fear of their reputation. The movie is formally decent and intriguing, while Michael Douglas is pretty good in the leading role, not even hesitating to show himself naked in front of the camera. The most famous, and today almost classic scene is certainly the one in which Stone's Tramell crosses her legs while sitting in her mini-skirt, making the audience wonder if she is or isn't wearing any underwear, but equally boldly is the one in which Douglas' Nick is showing blisters on his hand because he masturbated too much. It's a moderately well made, but at times also heavy handed erotic thriller, while the finale came across as uneven since the authors tried to force an open ending of the murderer's identity, yet Stone, nominated for a Golden Globe as best actress, gave probably the role of her lifetime in this "taboo" film that lacks a soul.

Grade:++

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