versione originale italiana

Basic instinct 2

From the awl to the belt
a review by Adriano Ercolani

translation by Giorgia Tordini

  Usa, 2006
directed by Michael Caton-Jones starring Sharon Stone, David Morissey, David Thewlis, Charlotte Rampling

The most depressing job in cinematographic critical review is to have to be writing about a film you did not like yourself. The question gets to the border of frustration when a bad movie does not even have the basics on which a compact and coherent critical discussion can be built. The writer, not being able to achieve a satisfying review, is left to the embarrassing problem of making up a story, due more to the unworth analyzed work than to his own literary inaptitude.
Being, after all, clever enough to foresee such a risk, and bold enough to expressly confess my intention to avoid it too (just name it laziness if you like…), I prefer to tell you about this dull Basic Instinct 2 fencing it in a series of scattered considerations, rather than making up an entangled story, which would just be boring. Trust me: for such a film this is just not worth.

In a sense Basic Instinct closes up a certain period of American Cinema, the glossy and "fluorescent" age that got its highlight in the second half of the '80s - look at the best works by Adrian Lyne for example, or at the "minor" films by Ridley Scott and his brother Tony. Enclosing the violence and the semi-explicit sex of Verhoeven's movie in the frame of last years' explosion of sense and aesthetics towards the exploitation genre, we can easily notice how that movie was coherent and fully embedded in that cinematographic period. Fourteen years later, a follow-up superficially aping the corniest visual connotations of its precursor is just meaningless, particularly when American cinema has got a totally new skin. The luxury of the ambience, lighted up by Gyula Pados as they were the leftover of the previous movie, leave the public at least astonished: if we felt in the mood of a long advertisement for some sparkly drink, we would have rather stayed on the couch in front of the TV! Do you remember Theron's bum floundering for Martini? In comparison with Basic Instinct 2 that was really glossy Eros…

The lost city
Let us continue to talk about the setting: Basic Instinct 2 is set in London, but you can guess it only after one hour and half of projection, when detective David Thewlis (a great actor who keeps on playing dodgy roles!) gets off his car the English way, from the right. For all the rest of the movie, the choice of associating as less as possible the product to a specific culture and geographical area - therefore making it as commercial as possible for USA market?- has rendered the setting so un-personalized to make it as a suspended jumble of arid and depressive architecture. Why filming in London then, if the explicit intention is to hide it?
The result is a confused mix of skyscrapers, neon-lighted night visions, bars and discos as probably in every American city. Couldn't they film it directly in the States? Did the beautiful Sharon have to give her passport back for exceeding the limit of simulated orgasms?

Sex and risk
Let us come to the hottest and most disappointing part of the story: where is the so loudly claimed scandal? Where is the striking celebration of the Eros/Thanatos binomial? Sharon Stone keeps her usual magnetism, but with all those commonplace sentences, grimaces and pussycat bumming she eventually slides into ridiculousness, also because of her rather improper and very little appealing dressing: the reached maturity of the star would have deserve more attention and erotic development, instead of that dodgy dressing up as a fashionable teenager. Besides this Basic Instinct 2 is hot as a camomile tea: there is no sexual tension between the characters and this is due to the choice of leaving all the scene to the star Stone, by appointing such a "boiled" male role. But if David Morissey is not convincing as lover of the hot Tramell, as shrink he gets just pathetic…

Give us Eszterhas back!
I would have never thought to yearn for the return of one of the most over estimated Hollywood screen-player. But at least old John did write an episode one with strong roles and gave the actors the possibility not to be deride by the public, as it would be in this second appointment. Larry Barish and Henry Bean script - author the latter of the very interesting The Believer - falls to pieces allover. Illogic, incredible, not linked in any event and most of all in any psychology, the text just give a long, never-ending, logorroic words abuse. And where is the action?

From the awl to the belt
It's not possible! This time the psycho-nympho-literate Tramell should kill her lovers by strangling them with Gucci or Versace belts!!! Why didn't they let the fit boys die suffocated by her lace slip (she does not wear it anyway...)? The subtitle of the movie announces her risk addiction: at the end of the film, Stone only shows off her tobacco addiction. Perhaps in the third episode they will die by smoke-ring shots!