Sunday, August 24, 2014

Basic Instinct

Movie Name: Basic Instinct
Year of Release: 1992
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Stars: Michael Douglas, Sharon Stone, George Dzundza, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Denis Arndt, Leilani Sarelle, Bruce A. Young, Chelcie Ross, Dorothy Malone, Wayne Knight, Daniel Von Bargen, Stephen Tobolowsky, Benjamin Bouton
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 4

Following the huge success of 1990's "Total Recall", director Paul Verhoeven tackled another controversial screenplay from writer Joe Eszterhas (he had also written at the time Costa-Gavras' "Music Box" and Betrayed", to name but a few). The film follows the story of Nick Curran, a seasoned and experienced police detective, one with a murky past, who gets involved in a high profile investigation of the murder of a celebrity in San Francisco. The main suspect of the investigation turns out to be Catherine Trammell, a rich and beautiful heir, who is also a writer of suspense/thriller books. During the process of investigating the suspect, Nick gets personally involved with Catherine, whom he suspects is indeed the killer. It's up to him to figure out who murdered the victim, and avoid himself becoming one.
Paul Verhoeven has been an interesting director since his early films in his native country, Netherlands. His career in Hollywood has been met with both highly financially successful films, such as "Robocop" and "Total Recall", and some that have been big disappointments such as "Starship Troopers" and "Showgirls". "Basic Instinct" was a big hit in 1992, while simultaneously launching Sharon Stone's career. The film in itself was a basic standard noir detective story - an embittered lonely cop, falls for the femme fatale, who is also the main suspect of the case. Where the story tried to differ from so many previous incarnations, was the focus on the more erotic undertone of the main relationship, and the fact that the female character is given a duplicitous sexuality. Paul Verhoeven tries to bring some dynamics to the story, but ultimately the film features all the cliches known to the genre, without benefitting from any particular surprises or character developments of notice. Sharon Stone manages to create a character that exudes intelligence and seduction (much like Kathleen Turner in "Body Heat"), but sadly the film never rises up to the promise of her character. A flawed and ultimately forgetful film.