Rakesh's movie talk
Basic Instinct (1992)

Home | Movie Reviews | Movie talk | Film Personalities | Misc Articles | Contact Me | Tamil Time

Directed by Paul Verhoeven
Written by Joe Eszterhas
Starring Michael Douglas, Sharon Stone, George Dzundza and Jeanne Tripplehorn

I had a pirated copy of this movie for some times now, but I have refused to watch it. Well, believe it or not, I do listen to critics sometimes. A good many of them have dismissed it as thinly veiled (aren't all veils thin) softcore flick. And more often than not, the movie is known for its nudity and the famous interrogation scene where Sharon Stone crosses her leg and let the cops and about millions (probably billions by now) viewer get a glimpse of her golden triangle. And I said, so what? If I want lusty thrill, I'll watch a proper softcore porn (if at all there is a proper one), and I was never too enamoured with Michael Douglas performance.


Things change. You get older and you do take interest in stuff that you never would have in the past, like hair tonics for example. Anyway, I was reading this three-parter article written by the scriptwriter Joe Eszterhas about his fling with Sharon Stone, and his addiction to drugs, cigarette, drink and others' spouses. And it between, I found some interesting elements that are usually associated with the word 'inspiration'. What was in his mind when he wrote scripts? Where does he get those err... inspirations?


And did he write that interrogation scene the way it was shot? Well, the answer is yes and no. There was an interrogation scene that was purposely put to highlight the seduction. And no, it was the director and Stone herself, who decided that the scene would be better without her wearing the panties. Heh.


So, I thought, let give this movie a shot. I am a crime fiction buff, and have liked even some purportedly (by critics) bad movies that some stars have made on that subject. I like Eastwood's True Crime, Connerys Rising Sun and Just Cause,  and Pacino's Sea of Love. I dig Garcia and Gere in Internal Affairs, De Niro in Fifteen Minutes, and the list goes on


And I loved this movie. Well, there is nothing so fascinating about the sex scene that you probably would have never witnessed in other porn movies. There are plot inconsistencies. Character motivations are quite a mess, and clichés are plenty throughout the film. But the performances, crisp dialogue, production design, and the score more than often makes up for it.


First thing that caught my attention was the music. The music could have been for some kind of Star Wars-like epic, but here it is so effective for a thriller. It goes full force, and many weak scenes stand out really strong. Kudos to veteran composer Jerry Goldsmith. I am sure that the soundtrack can be good as a standalone listening pleasure.


Then I was really impressed with George Dzundza. He is one hell of an underrated actor for sure. He was the suffering producer, Paul Lunden, who always gets to be the butt of Eastwood's joke in White Hunter Black Heart. Dzundza was the wheel-chaired computer geek who has his priorities mixed up upon helping Costner in No Way Out. He is good, damned good.


Of course, I must give credit to Douglas for making his stereotype burnt out cop with nasty flashbacks, the edgy Detective Curran, certain freshness. You will care for his character even though at times he behaves like a bastard. As for Sharon Stone, well, any decent actress can pull of the job, though she did give some err...flesh to the usual skin and bone vamps we are so accustomed to.


The director, Paul Veerhoeven, has done a decent job. I think he fits better in out-of-the-world kind of story that made him so good, like Total Recall. The story? Well, it is mostly a whodunit affair that does not really keep you guessing. Anyway, it may not be the authors intent. It can seem to be misogynistic, homophobic, but then it also does not spare itself from stereotyping almost everyone else; burnt out cop, stupid captain, complaining sidekick, and men who got nothing else in their mind but sex. So, basically the movie hates everybody, and I believe that what makes the movie so compelling. You dont exactly root for anybody, and yet you want to know what happens next.


Basic Instinct works well as a thriller. I hope people will remember the movie for that, rather than for its erotic content.

Sharon, ready to unveil the mystery.