Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone get Basic
"Basic Instinct" the movie which managed to garner considerable press coverage and caused controversy over its erotic nature which shocked audiences thanks to the infamous Sharon Stone leg crossing scene and the number of times we got to see Sharon Stone naked in various sex scenes. But compared to today's erotic thrillers "Basic Instinct" feels surprisingly tame when it comes to the shocking nature of the sex scenes and naked flesh on show.
After former rock star Johnny Boz (Bill Cable) is found brutally murdered in his bed having just had sex, Detective Nick Curran (Michael Douglas - Wall Street) is assigned the case which leads him directly to Boz's girlfriend Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone - Total Recall). A published novelist it soon becomes clear to Curran that not only does the murder mirror one which featured in Catherine's most recent book but she is a sexual predator with him in her sights. As he gets deeper into the investigation his relationship with Catherine takes an unexpected turn and no one is safe from suspicion.
The thing is as purely a thriller "Basic Instinct" is not great, the storyline is riddled with holes which although are not so evident on the first viewing become more and more apparent each time you watch it. In reality if "Basic Instinct" didn't feature an a-list cast or have top director Paul Verhoeven helming it this would have been another one of those low grade movies which would go straight to video, do you remember those. It is the star names of Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone which save "Basic Instinct" and help make it more than it really should be. Plus of course there is the erotic nature of the movie and the fact that the Sharon Stone sex scenes stick in your mind due to their intensity.
One of the biggest issues when it comes to the actual storyline is that the movie takes us down various avenues of possibilities to try and keep us guessing whether or not Catherine Tramell is a very clever and seductive killer. This would be fine but several of these avenues are never tied up when it comes to the ending and much worse "Basic Instinct" actually leaves things floating. This would have been fine if they followed this up with a quick sequel rather than waiting 14 years to make "Basic Instinct 2" a sequel which didn't actually follow on.
Despite this Paul Verhoeven does a very good job of keeping "Basic Instinct" moving at a perfect pace so that you don't have time to work out that the plot is riddled with more holes than a piece of Edam. But it's not just the pace where Verhoeven has excelled but in the clever styling of the movie to the extent that "Basic Instinct" is a movie which has aged remarkably well. If you look at the various elements from the music, the clothes, hair styles and cars none of them would look that out of place in a movie made in the last 10 years let alone one 20 years ago. Whether this was intentional I can't say but if it was it is to his credit that the movie is quite ageless.
Of course the real reason why "Basic Instinct" is still rated higher than perhaps it should be is due to the erotic nature of the movie. As I mentioned before compared to later movies such as "Body of Evidence" and "Showgirls" it is no where near as controversial but it is still one of the steamiest and erotic thrillers to have been made. I will be frank and say watching Sharon Stone naked riving around in various sex scenes are some of my favourite movie scenes from this sort of movie and they are definitely superior to many scenes in similar movies which jumped on the erotic thriller band wagon. Plus of course there is the controversial blink and you will miss it leg crossing scene which to be honest is over hyped.
But although Sharon Stone is probably most memorable in "Basic Instinct" for her naked body she actually puts in quite a good performance. You get a real sense of mystery around the character of Catherine Tramell and she is equally convincing as someone more than capable of murder, you just have to watch how she handles the ice pick in the later scene. In many ways the character is perfect for Stone and she manages to not only tease Michael Douglas's Detective Nick Curran but also the audience with her sexual and flirtatious behaviour. Talking of Michael Douglas who actually had top billing for "Basic Instinct", well despite a very solid performance he is out shone by Stone. This is nothing to do with Douglas who is completely believable as a cop with a dodgy past but the actual character feels quite generic and could have been pulled from other various thrillers. The most important thing is there is serious chemistry between Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone right from their first scene together through to the climax and this makes "Basic Instinct" a lot better than other erotic thrillers.
As for the supporting cast well the majority such as George Dzundza and Denis Arndt do well in very stereotypical characters as does Leilani Sarelle who makes an underused impact as the sexy Roxy. But unfortunately Jeanne Tripplehorn as Dr. Beth Garner does not fair so well and whether intentional or not she spends most of the movie looking like a rabbit staring into the beam of an oncoming vehicle. In fairness she does have a good scene but as it happens to be the one, for want of a better word, she basically gets raped, it's not particularly a nice scene but the only one where she doesn't under perform and the subsequent scene also shows that she is more than capable of good acting rather than what was displayed for the majority of the movie.
What this all boils down to is as a thriller "Basic Instinct" is not great, it is riddled with far too many gaps in the plot and other than it features an a-list cast of Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone as well as being sexually charged it would never have been as popular as it is. But as an erotic thriller it excels and the steamy scenes featuring Sharon Stone naked are some of the most memorable erotic scenes of the past couple of decades.