Blindfold & Ice makes Basinger Hot
If you mention the 1986 movie "9 1/2 Weeks" to anyone and the chances are various scenes such as Kim Basinger and an ice cube, Kim Basinger and erotic food as well as Kim Basinger and the steamy alley sex scene will get mentioned. But get past the intentional eroticism which is a big part of "9 1/2 Weeks" and there is actually a surprisingly intriguing movie with a clever script, tension and decent performances from both Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke. Although to be honest it is a bit long, very slow and hard to get passed all those steamy sex scenes which get pulses racing.
Art gallery dealer Elizabeth (Kim Basinger - The Natural) who following a chance encounter finds herself in a relationship with John (Mickey Rourke - Rumble Fish) a Wall Street executive. Showered with gifts and affection Elizabeth literally falls under the spell of the charismatic John and as their relationship rapidly progresses so does their sexual encounters as they become increasingly risqué and out of control.
As already mentioned the storyline to "9 1/2 Weeks" is intriguing and is very subtle in its progression, maybe a little too subtle in places as it's hard to really appreciate it. It explores the world of a relationship and how the steamy sensuality of it affects them not only as a couple but also away from the relationship. We see Elizabeth slowly shunning her friends as she becomes more and more wrapped up with John and in many ways hooked on the erotic nature of the sexually charged relationship. Whilst we also to some extent see how it affects John as he gains more and more control over Elizabeth pushing her boundaries. Although you do wonder whether he is going deeper into a world of sexual exploration or whether he was already there and was just enjoying enforcing control. It is surprisingly engrossing to watch how far the kinkiness of the relationship goes, not in a titillating manner but how much control John can exhort over Elizabeth before she either breaks or manages to regain full control of her dignity.
Talking of which it has to be said that in many ways the character of Elizabeth is treated in a derogatory manner as the storyline is about her being the play thing of John's twisted minded and in being so often delivers an uneasy feeling. There are scenes where I felt hold on a minute this is going beyond what you would expect from a commercial movie but then there is restraint which stops "9 1/2 Weeks" becoming full on soft porn even though there are several scenes that get damn close.
Which brings me nicely on to the controversial sexual side of "9 1/2 Weeks" and I have to say that it is full of erotic sex scenes, sometimes tasteful, sometimes not but all of which stick in your mind long after the movie has climaxed. In many ways these scenes are intriguing as they are not just there to titillate but help expand on the actual storyline as each sexual encounter becomes a little more risqué, with John gaining more power over Elizabeth. For the time when "9 1/2 Weeks" was released I can see why they were seen as controversial and the fact that Kim Basinger who was no b-list star appeared semi naked in many scenes did make it seem all the more explicit for the sake of it. But compared to modern movies they could be seen as quite tame and it is actually more the nature of the domineering relationship which could be seen as controversial rather than the risqué nature of the sex scenes. Compare it to say "Basic Instinct" and "9 1/2 Weeks" actually feels more sensual and erotic with real passion rather than the in your face exploits of Sharon Stone.
The thing is that the most memorable thing about "9 1/2 Weeks" is those erotic sex scenes such as the alley sex scene, or Basinger pleasuring herself whilst at work because the storyline is so subtle. At 112 minutes "9 1/2 Weeks" is not a short movie and often the storyline seems to float along with no real momentum causing several lulls in the drama which makes it actually quite difficult to follow. This ends up giving the appearance that it is all about Basinger naked and the sex scenes as the storyline is just a vehicle for them, which it really isn't.
As for Kim Basinger's performance well it is surprisingly good and convincing through out. Yes she looks amazingly sexy in all those erotic scenes but it is her actual acting which stands out. Taking a semi confident character on a journey where the self assurance is slowly ebbed away as she becomes controlled by her charismatic partner, it is definitely captivating and works well in partnership with Mickey Rourke as the handsome and charming yet slightly mysterious John. There is something about Rourke's performance which is mesmerising, the fact that he rarely speaks makes the character slightly unsettling yet Rourke delivers so much with a smile or a look, something bordering between mischievous and Machiavellian. Together the partnership works well and there certainly appears to be great chemistry between Basinger and Rourke, at times tempestuous whilst others romantic.
What this all boils down to is that "9 1/2 Weeks" is a surprisingly interesting movie which delivers more than you may expect. On one had you have the sexual nature of the movie and it is filled with steamy sex scenes and nudity which are likely to get your pulse racing. But then in between all of these sexual encounters is a storyline which explores the impact of the relationship and the way the control exhibited by John over Elizabeth affects them. The trouble is that it is a slow movie which is only ever pepped up by those memorable sex scenes and so is often misunderstood.