Basic Instinct Review
Set in San Francisco (just like director Verhoeven's beloved Vertigo), Basic Instinct centres on Nick (Douglas), a cop who is sent to investigate a particularly brutal S&M-related murder. His investigation leads to Catherine Tramell (Stone), an author who has already described the crime exactly in one of her books and has no alibi for the night of the crime. The question is, can he stop himself from falling in love with her before she decides to amuse herself by offing him too? The 90s saw a deluge of dodgy erotic thrillers (most of them, like Basic Instinct, either written by Joe Eszterhas or starring the Stonester), but Paul Verhoeven's film still stands as the original and the best. The genius of Basic Instinct lies, simply, in the degree to which it is willing to shamelessly indulge its audience. You want your eyeballs massaged with endless, glorious shots of the Bay Area and the opulence therein? No problem. Crave multitudinous clever, if maybe a little pointless, Hitchcock references? Fine. Fancy a naughty peek up Sharon's skirt? Of course.
If there is a complaint to be made, it's in the fact that it doesn't actually work that well as a thriller. Stone's insatiable Catherine is so patently diabolical, you'd have to be a moron not to be able to figure out who the culprit is from the very beginning. Not that it matters, of course; contrived as this plot is and unlikeable as these characters are, you won't care what happens at the end. But the point was never to tell a story about 'real people', so much as to entertain the pants off the audience. This is style over substance heaven.