Body Heat Reviews
One of the sexiest (and most seductive) movies ever made, a steamy turn of film-noir about a woman who convinces her lover to murder her rich husband, so she can inherent his fortune . . . but wait until you see the twist ending! Rich John Barry score combine with grand noir look and unbeatable acting in this now-classic movie.
For Ned Racine (William Hurt), an influenceable lawyer, his introductory glimpse of this specimen of a woman is enough to satisfy his boyhood fantasies for the rest of his thankless life. Not starting a flirtation is out of the question; opportunities to liaison with femmes as poised as Lauren Bacall rarely arise in this small Florida town - her being married is not an obstacle. It's something to sneak around, like an unusually intelligent house rat who knows where the family feline fancies to stretch out.
The chemistry between Ned and Matty is electric to the touch, instant and irreversible the moment they make eye contact. Their dialogue is coquettish and clever - a connection as cinematic as this one has never occurred during Ned's banal existence, though we suspect that Matty could deliver breathy one-liners in her sleep. She was born to maneuver men, wear them like a 16-carat diamond ring shining on her middle finger. Ned, whom she begins having an affair with almost immediately after their initial meeting, is a fly trapped within her black widow's web of manipulation.
Matty swears to her newest plaything that she hates her husband, that he's a brute of a man who doesn't give her the attention, both emotionally and physically, she needs to survive. Divorcing him will leave her penniless; she'll have been a part of a loveless union for nothing. Concerned that his dream woman cannot make it the rest of her life on love alone, Ned, despite being a man on the right side of the law, conjures up a plan that comes to show that he isn't familiar with film noir: what if they killed Mr. Walker, made it look accidental, and, therefore, give Matty the financial oneupmanship she feels she so much deserves?
The trials and tribulations of "Body Heat" are certainly derivative of a certain movie I'm sure you won't be able to stop thinking about during its length: "Double Indemnity," a film noir classic that introduced the recurring thriller storyline in which a seductive femme fatale coerces a morally sound man to leave his doubts at the door in favor of appeasing his female master. Some praise "Body Heat" for breathing new life into this sort of plot, and some dismiss it for its repetitive nature.
I sit somewhere in the middle, cognizant toward the film's proficiency in making a new kind of noir (sexually explicit, not reliant on censors, and more intent on modernization than paying homage) rather than imitating the dance moves of its objects of affection. But I also found myself bothered by just how much it takes from its '44 model - things don't feel as crisp as much as they do simplistically updated, as though we're watching a better-than-average remake starring the modern equivalents of Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck.
But I cannot wholeheartedly say that this is a bad thing, because film noir is a timeless genre and because MacMurray and Stanwyck still make for one of the most memorable star-crossed pair of lovers to be spotlighted on the silver screen. "Body Heat" isn't the classic it is so frequently billed as, and yet it holds a certain kind of smoky interest that never lets us turn a blind eye to its delicious noir cinematography, old-fashioned score, and strong central performances. It is what a 1940s film noir might have been had sexual frankness been something the Hays Code agreed with - Kathleen Turner, with her husky voice and sinuous composure, is among the sexiest leading ladies of all time. But "Body Heat" borrows more than it invents, diverting though subordinate.