Director Paul Verhoeven is no stranger to controversy. His films usually upset some people and polarise views. You never leave the cinema or switch off the DVD player and think well that was alright. You love 'em or you leave 'em. Mostly I think you probably love them, at least I do, and I think I am a pretty average movie lover. The Hitchhiker, Starship Troopers, RoboCop, Total Recall - all well above average, and all controversial at the time of release. The controversy is usually in the States and Middle England (no not middle earth) where prudish, narrow-minded people think the use of flowery language or exposed nipples will create a blood lust among the general population and result in hordes of illegal immigrants stealing our jobs, or something like that. Well Basic Instinct upset many in the USA on its 1992 release; mainly the gay community who felt it portrayed a negative stereotype the “aggressive gay”. Of course we are all familiar with the problem of gangs of aggressive gays roaming the streets and creating havoc, my hometown of Liverpool has a particular problem with these miscreants. Basic Instinct of course has no agenda towards the gay community, or indeed anyone else. It is merely a stylish thriller in the Hitchcock mold, well written by Joe Eszterhas, beautifully scored by Jerry Goldsmith, shot in a moody noirish fashion by Jan De Bont, and acted with uninhibited passion by Sharon Stone (Catherine Trammel), Michael Douglas (Det. Nick Curran) and Jeanne Tripplehorn (Dr. Beth Garner). All of these people are big hitters in their chosen fields and they meld together here to produce some of their finest work.
As the film is 12 years old and most of you will have seen it already the briefest summary is in order. Det. Curran is an NYPD homicide cop under investigation by internal affairs and receiving therapy by Dr. Garner following the accidental shooting of two tourists. He and his partner Gus Moran (George Dzundza) are called to the scene of a vicious murder. Their investigations soon lead them to the door of wealthy novelist Catherine Trammel who was not only dating the dead man, but had written a novel some years earlier with characters and plotlines identical to the current crime. Is she the murderer? And can Nick solve the case before his own life is put at risk?
Well by now of course we all know the answer. Indeed a smear campaign before the film was released revealed the ending, but this didn't stop the movie from being a box office smash. The destination may have been known but the journey there was just as much fun. Having watched it again for this review I can tell you it is still a great ride. Sharon Stone is bewitching as the sexual predator taking what she wants from life, playing a mans game in a mans world and winning. Jeanne Tripplehorn is vulnerable and alluring as the doctor with hidden secrets and even Michael Douglas doesn't annoy too much. This movie deals with complex issues and morals in an adult way. It is electric from the opening frame to the closing credits and at all points in between, including the famous “beaver shot” which people still argue only shows Miss Stone's thigh. Well I watched this on a 7ft screen and with pause and frame advance buttons close to hand (and purely for the sake of accurate reporting) I can confirm that if it is her thigh she needs a wax job.
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