Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Movie Review: Body Of Evidence (1993)


Body Of Evidence may or may not be the worst film of the 1990s: it certainly presents a compelling example of a project gone pear shaped to the point of being interesting for all the wrong reasons.

Producer Dino De Laurentiis, king of the derivatives, must have thought that he was onto a no-lose proposition: mash together lawyer-falls-for-suspect from Jagged Edge (1985) with sex-as-act-of-murder from Basic Instinct (1992), add an all-star cast, drop in the sizzle of Madonna as an often naked seductress, and stir vigorously. That despite all these ingredients he ended up with a squashed turkey says a lot about the awfulness of this film.

Body Of Evidence would have had a better chance of success with a half-decent script and a half-decent director. Instead Brad Mirman wrote a screenplay that gets lamer the harder it tries for eroticism, and once promising director Uli Edel used Body Of Evidence to prove his inability to deliver quality movies, spending most of the rest of his tattered career in TV land.

And the hole at the centre of this donut is Madonna, flapping her eyelids in a desperate attempt to prove that she belongs on the big screen, and utterly failing to convince. Madonna's lightweight presence at the heart of Body Of Evidence tilts the whole enterprise towards farce. Next to her on the screen, Willem Dafoe, Joe Mantegna, Anne Archer, Julianne Moore, Frank Langella and Jurgen Prochnow hang on for dear life as they realize that their careers may be drowning in a sea of ineptitude.

As for the plot, old man Andrew Marsh is found dead in his bed. Rebecca Carlson (Madonna) is his much younger lover, and she is soon arrested for having induced Marsh's death by intentionally straining his heart with ever more kinky sex. Rebecca's lawyer is Frank Dulaney (Dafoe), and although he is happily married to Sharon (Julianne Moore), Rebecca is soon tying him up, straddling him naked, and dripping hot wax on his chest in what is meant to be an erotic lovemaking session. Better is yet to come when they have sex in a dank parkade as shards of glass tear through his skin.

Nevertheless, Prosecutor Robert Garrett (Mategna) wants to deprive the world of Rebecca's unique skill set by throwing her in jail for murder, and he thinks he has a strong case, particularly as Rebecca stands to inherit Marsh's fortune. Marsh's secretary Joanne (Archer) is ready to testify that Rebecca shoved cocaine up March's nose; a former lover is uncovered and he testifies that Rebecca also tried to push his heart over the edge with too much sex, and Marsh's doctor Alan (Prochnow) confesses that Rebecca found out from him that Marsh had a weak heart.

All these witnesses eventually implode into a spectacular mess in the farcical courtroom, as Rebecca and Frank are able to discredit them with ever more ludicrous revelations, all without any research, support staff, or actual work to interrupt the hot sex sessions in Rebecca's floating house with flowing curtains. Rebecca walks, and Frank has to confront her when he is shocked -- shocked! -- that she was, actually and after all, behind the murder of Andrew Marsh.

Body Of Evidence is not bad enough to be funny, just bad enough to make for compelling viewing as several careers suffer nasty damage in a most unfortunate screen wreck.



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