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Basic Instinct 2 (5/10)

by Tony Medley

Advertised as a “psychological thriller,” this movie loses credibility at the outset when a car careens into The Thames in London. As it sinks, we see a well lit car slowly settling down to the bottom of the river. The electronic windows work perfectly. Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone) has time to try to get her lover out of the passenger seat. The visibility is perfect. Then she lowers the window and easily floats to the surface.

Director Michael Caton-Jones and writers Leora Barish and Henry Bean apparently didn’t take a good look at The Thames, which is as dirty a river as one could imagine, especially as it flows through London. I know because I practiced law in London and my office was a half block from The Thames. I saw it every day. If a car fell into the river once it got two feet below the surface visibility would be zero. You wouldn’t be able to see your hand in front of your face. Worse, this accident occurs in the middle of the night, so there’s no sun to shine through the muck. So much for believability.

But these are among the least offensive of the movie because Sharon Stone doesn’t talk much, just moans as she is being sexually aroused by her passenger as her car flies into the river. After that she has to deliver lines.

As bad as her delivery, poor Sharon wears such heavy pancake makeup to make her 47 year-old face appear seductive that it’s amazing she could maneuver her lips to get out comprehensible sentences. Unfortunately, when she does, she sounds like a poor imitation of Mae West.

Actually, I give Sharon’s performance short shrift if I merely refer to the way she delivers her lines. Wait until you see the way she walks! They say that John Wayne mastered his walk for westerns and he only walked that way when he was in a western. Well, Sharon must have studied Mae for a long time because when she walks, well, you have to see it to believe it.

The sad part of all this is that this could have been a good movie. Dr. Michael Glass (David Morrissey), is a forensic psychiatrist, as well as a clinical psychiatrist. Brought in by Scotland Yard detective Roy Washburn (David Thewlis), he testifies against Catherine and then gets caught up in her web, apparently. Poor Morrissey either didn’t read the script or he didn’t appreciate the lack of talent residing in Ms. Stone, because his performance could be a career-buster.

The sets (Norman Garwood) are exceptional. The cinematography (Gyula Pados) is often reminiscent of the best of Alfred Hitchcock, presenting lighting and atmosphere that with a better director, or a better leading lady, and a better script, should have produced enormous tension.

Alas, their work is undermined by dialogue that hardly rises to the level of trite. Combined with Ms. Stone’s delivery and you’ve got a movie that should live on as camp for years to come. There was more laughter from my screening audience at this film than I have heard at Will Ferrell movies, but I realize that that’s damning with faint praise, because Will doesn’t produce many yucks. Maybe some far-seeing producer will team Will with Sharon. Since Will tries to be funny and isn’t and Sharon tries to be serious and isn’t, and since neither of them can act, that could be something to see.

If I were rating this movie as a “psychological thriller” it would be straining to give it a 1. But surely they can't be serious. If you view it as camp, it's much more entertaining. Sharon Stone’s performance should not be missed by any camp-follower!

March 28, 2006



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