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Basic Instinct (1992)

DVD Cover (Lions Gate)
Genres:
Erotic Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Thriller
Director:
Paul Verhoeven Paul Verhoeven
Starring:
Michael Douglas Michael Douglas
Sharon Stone Sharon Stone
George Dzundza George Dzundza
Jeanne Tripplehorn Jeanne Tripplehorn
Denis Arndt Denis Arndt

6.5 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: July 12, 2007
Basic Instinct. A lot of things probably came to mind when you saw this film listed on here - the infamous upskirt shot, the gratuitous oral sex scenes, the uproar in the gay community that occurred during shooting - but "a great thriller" probably didn't rank too high up in that list. Well, maybe I can't speak for everyone, but that's sort of how I remembered it after having seen it shortly after its VHS release way back in the early nineties. When I recently saw the unrated special super mega edition laying in the bargain bin for a mere five bucks, I decided to go ahead and give it another shot if only to get it listed on this little site of ours... and to my surprise, I found that it was actually a great film.

Sharon Stone stars as Catherine Tramell, an attractive novelist who is suspected of murdering her lover for inspiration for her latest book. It seems pretty apparent to both the characters in the film and us watching at home that she did it; after all, we watched as an attractive blonde had sex with the man before murdering him, the deceased guy was Catherine's sex-toy, she doesn't have an alibi, and she also seems to be playing a game with everyone involved by insinuating that she did it while never coming right out and saying it. Oh, and there's also that little thing about her last novel featuring an attractive blonde tying up a former rock-star while having sex with him and then stabbing him to death with an icepick... which is exactly how this crime played out in the real world.

Enter Nick Curran (Michael Douglas), a detective with a bit of a colorful past to say the least. Nick is convinced that Catherine did it even after everyone else believes her to be innocent due to her having passed a lie detector test, and he sets out to prove his gut feeling right even when it means getting himself suspended from the force for going beyond the law to achieve his goal. Dr. Beth Garner (Jeanne Tripplehorn), his psychologist, attempts to convince him that he's spiraling out of control due to his obsession with the case, but does he listen? Of course not... and what he doesn't realize is that Catherine is playing a game with him, a game that could end up very deadly for all involved if he doesn't play his cards right.

Yes, the film is best known for that brief glimpse of what lies between Sharon Stone's legs, and I find it sort of sad that that two second clip overshadows everything else about the movie when it comes to the legacy that it has left behind. There's actually a damned fine thriller to be found in this package, one that is full of twists, turns, suspects, and even a couple of surprises when all is said and done.

Aiding the story is the fact that the leading roles were given to people who could actually fill them respectfully. Sharon Stone may have been a newcomer when this film was shot, but you certainly couldn't tell by her performance here: she comes across as a seasoned veteran while playing the manipulative woman who uses sex as a means to an end and nothing more. I bet there's a lot of actresses out there who were kicking themselves after turning down this role, but with a different lady playing the character, the film could have been much less memorable. Michael Douglas is also great in his role as the police detective who goes from an everyman to a man obsessed with cracking the case, even if it means breaking the law to do so. He may go a little over the top in some spots, but for the vast majority of the running time, the man played it to perfection.

On a semi-related note, one thing that I never really understood about this film was why it got the gay and lesbian community all riled up. Sure, one of the main characters is a bisexual woman and there's another character who "experimented" with same-sex relations during her college years, but is this truly grounds for complaints? Neither of the characters were stereotyped and nothing negative came out of this aspect of the film, so it truly boggles my mind as to why people would complain about it.

Getting off of my soapbox and back to the review, I'm going to wrap this up by saying that I enjoyed this film much more than I expected to. Yes, there are a lot of sexual encounters in the film and yes, some of it may have went a little further than most mainstream films of the time, but don't let that fool you: there's actually a pretty impressive thriller wrapped up underneath all of that. 8/10.
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bluemeanie #1: bluemeanie - added 07/13/2007, 01:06 PM
Never really understood all the hoopla surrounding this film. Always seemed like a cheap rip-off of "Fatal Attraction" to me. Sharon Stone never really made me a believer in this film and it's just second rate Michael Douglas throughout. 6/10.
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