Movie Review – Basic Instinct (1992)

Director: Paul Verhoeven

Stars: Michael Douglas, Sharon Stone, George Dzundza, Jeanne Tripplehorn

Detective Nick Curran (Douglas) is struggling with a few issues and has returned to normal duties, although he is still under observation by a counselor, who he also happens to be sleeping with (Tripplehorn). While investigating a murder he encounters the novelist Catherine Tramell and at first she’s the prime suspect. But he quickly descends into a web of lies, deceit, and paranoia. He doesn’t know who to trust or what to believe.

Basic Instinct is mostly infamous for that scene. I actually didn’t think it was that much of a big deal. It only happens for a moment and it only shows a brief glimpse anyway.  It’s a bit of a shame that such a short shot overshadows what is a very good thriller.

I’ve been coming to appreciate a lot of Michael Douglas’ work in the 90s and it’s a shame he doesn’t seem to appear in much anymore. He always plays the tortured characters well and has an edge about him, like you want to root for him but at the same time you never know when he’s going to go off the rails. The tension in this film is perfect and the scenes between Douglas and Stone sizzle. The sex scenes vary from raw lust to a more sensual nature, and it’s intriguing to see how Curran starts to question his own feelings and motives. Stone is great in the role as well and it’s one that defines the femme fatale. It’s not surprising that this became an iconic role for her. She’s sexy, sultry, and oh so dangerous.

I loved how the plot developed and how the mystery was always tantalising. At times it does play with your expectations and throws enough doubt into the mix to have you wondering just who is responsible for the murders. The murders themselves were as graphic as the sex scenes, with plenty of visceral blood and violence. I particularly enjoyed the interrogation scenes. Tramell’s was tense and erotic as the cops realized that she was in control. This was paralleled later as Curran mimicked the author’s actions and attitude and showed just how much of an influence she had on him.

Overall I thought it was a great thriller. It sucked me in and provided enough tension and doubt to keep me involved until the final shot. It’s almost a shame that it’s became known as the film where Sharon Stone bares everything, as it’s really a minor part of the film and it doesn’t do justice to the rest of her role as it’s a great performance.

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