Starring: Michael Douglas, Sharon Stone, George Dzundza
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Running Time: 128 mins
Basic Instinct is an American film about a police detective who, while investigating the murder of a former rock star, enters into a passionate but chaotic relationship with the seductive central suspect.
While it’s not the world’s most unpredictable or mind-bending thriller, Basic Instinct’s sleek style, great twists and gripping mystery makes for a brilliantly entertaining watch throughout, made all the better with dynamite lead performances from Michael Douglas and especially Sharon Stone.
Basic Instinct is made in the vein of classic film-noir thrillers, as well as a particular look towards the mystery-filled thrillers of Alfred Hitchcock. For the most part, this movie recreates the atmosphere of those genres rather well, although it’s perhaps a little lacking in the tension and genuine paranoia that makes the likes of Sunset Boulevard, North By Northwest and Vertigo so great.
If there’s one thing that really stands out about this film, however, it’s the performances. Michael Douglas is great in the lead role as a flawed police detective, while Sharon Stone stars in what might just be the ultimate femme fatale role, albeit about 40 or 50 years too late.
The film’s intrigue, mystery and sleek style is all made so much better by Stone’s ingenious performance, which balances devilish and meticulous evildoing and ultra-seductive style that sees her character catch everybody who passes her by in her web.
There’s so much more to Stone’s performance here than the few explicit scenes that are picked out so often, and she really does have all the charisma, mystery and intrigue of a real femme fatale, making the story of a seemingly level-headed detective falling under her spell completely and utterly believable.
Speaking of the more explicit scenes, however, there’s a very interesting debate to be had as to whether graphic sex and nudity actually adds anything to the story. Normally, films throw it in to be a little bit provocative, but it doesn’t really do much to add to the film as a whole.
In the case of Basic Instinct, however, it’s a really important part of the story that makes the movie so much more gripping. Given that the film focuses heavily on the death of a rock star during sex, as well as revolving around the brutal, sex-fuelled relationship between Stone and Douglas, it would feel amiss to tone down the portrayal of sex and nudity.
There are absolutely times when the movie does feel gratuitous or perhaps even exploitative in its use of explicit sex, but for the most part, it’s a vital part of a thrilling story that really pushes the boundaries for a valid reason.
All of that comes together to help Basic Instinct deliver brilliantly entertaining thrills all the way through. Admittedly, it’s not the most unpredictable story you’ll ever see and, apart from a fantastic final sequence, it won’t have you constantly second-guessing the next step in the way the film perhaps wants you to.
Overall, though, I absolutely loved Basic Instinct. A sleek, hugely entertaining thriller that features great twists and two brilliant lead performances, it’s a fantastic ode to film-noir, and although it’s never quite as unpredictable as it might aim to be, it’s still an immensely enjoyable watch all the way through. So, that’s why I’m giving it a 7.7.