Chris' Review of Basic Instinct
There are many aspects, both good and bad, that you can pick up from Paul Verhoeven's 1992 erotic thriller Basic Instinct. On one hand, the premise of the film is kind of interesting and has a certain amount of complexity to it. Also, the film works okay enough as far as erotic films go with Sharon Stone flaunting out her body. On the other hand, the film is really cheesy and over-the-top at times as well as really dull in others. So if you're guessing that I think this film has an inconsistent feel to it, you'd probably be right.
Basic Instinct follows a police detective (Michael Douglas) with a troubling past who is trying to solve the recent murder of a rock and roll star. The only eligible suspect so far is a book writer (Sharon Stone), whose stories are about women murdering men, who was the last person to see him. One of her own stories seems to play out in the same way that this victim was murdered. Naturally, the police suspects that she did it. The plot thickens however when the detective falls in love with the writer and learns some new developments about the case.
In case I haven't mentioned it in any of my earlier reviews, let me get this off my chest. With a few exceptions, I really do not care at all for films centered on police detectives, cops or characters involved in similar professions since I find them to be boring, forgettable, and formulaic. While there are exceptions that either have interesting cases or characters, the rest of them just don't do a thing for me especially in terms of story, characters, and dialogue.
Keeping that in mind, while I find whatever takes place in the police department to be fairly formulaic, it wasn't boring and whatever dialogue was being said wasn't as much torture to listen to as I thought it was going to be. I thought it was going to be too difficult to understand what was being said like other films of this genre, but luckily it was easy to understand what was being said, so that must count for something.
On top of that, the story has a reasonably intriguing complexity to it and so do the two main characters. The hero and villain in this film are not clear cut, which is fairly authentic of real life. In reality, it's not crystal clear who the heroes and villains are, one culture may consider certain "heroes" villains, and vice versa. In other words, the screenplay was wise enough to put that aspect into the story.
If you go see this film solely for looking at Sharon Stone's physique, you won't be disappointed since she really looks good in this film. I wouldn't be surprised if some viewers were reminded of the blonde women Alfred Hitchcock used in his pictures especially Kim Novak. I know I detected some similarities in terms of looks and wardrobe between Stone and the typical blondes Hitchcock used in his films.
From what I've said so far, it sounds like this should be a good movie given my personal tastes. But sadly, Basic Instinct is one of those films in which the premise alone is better than the actual execution. One huge issue I had with Basic Instinct is the quality of the acting. I found the acting in this picture to be really weak. While the characters of the two leads are fascinating, the performances aren't executed well enough to do justice to the written characters. I also don't find the two leads (especially Douglas) either that believable or even that subtle/natural with their delivery.
Furthermore, the performance by Jeanne Tripplehorn as a psychiatrist helping out Douglas' character is especially unconvincing, considering that I never believed that her character had enough experience in studying psychology to the point were she would become a professional one at such a young age. I simply didn't buy it at all, and the only point to her character existing in this film is solely for a plot twist that is used later in the film. I think she was of no importance to the plot whatsoever.
Because of the disappointing acting quality, I don't really buy whatever ludicrous events take place in the plot as a result. Therefore, I can't take anything in the plot as seriously as the film seems to want me to. While the screenplay has its fair share of intriguing elements, there are also some elements of the screenplay especially with its dialogue that feels really cheesy and doesn't even sound the slightest bit realistic. As a result, that's how the film becomes inconsistent in terms of its delivery.
In a nutshell, Basic Instinct definitely seems to be a mixed bag. While it has a good idea of what it wants to be, it seldom delivers on the promises it makes mainly because the acting is so mediocre to the point where it interferes with my ability to believe what's happening on screen. I'd only recommend this film if you're solely interested in checking out Stone's body. It's not much of an endorsement, but that's the highest praise I can give to this flick.