An unstable police detective in San Francisco investigates a string of homicides involving an ice pick but ends up falling for the main suspect, a seductive novelist whose recent book also features a killer who uses an ice pick to murder their victims.
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I can't argue withe criticism as far as the writing goes, the whodunit might make less sense than 'The Big Sleep'. But Verhoven's absurdist sense of humor is in full swing Douglas recapping his role in Fatal Attraction is a gullible cop who's sexual endeavors are surreal in trying to comprehend Stone's nietzschean superwoman. The abrasive correlation between sex, violence and excitement is Verhoven at his pulpiest.
25 years later Verhoeven's take on the American thriller is still an adrenaline rush of sex, perversion and murder. Jerry Goldsmith's now classic score drives the film as does Verhoeven's audacity in drawing performance and making use of a very Hitchcockian San Francisco. The controversial elements have long since dissipated leaving a strong thriller behind despite its third act problems from writer Joe Eszterhas.
Very likely the platonic ideal of the erotic thriller. Jerry Goldsmith's sweeping score and the gorgeous San Francisco scenery link the film to Hitchcock and add a touch of class. The script turns the noir trope of the anti-hero on its head, portraying Michael Douglas' character as an unrepentant sleazeball: a trigger-happy cokehead, presumably grieving his wife's death, just looking to get off before he's offed.
This is Verhoeven painting in very broad strokes, projecting his fetishistic desires and gender ideas onto a Hitchcockian canvas. As always, his iconoclastic, frenetic directorial style exceeds plot and even actors. It's easy to talk about Sharon Stone (physical perfection in 1993), but the real surprise is Michael Douglas' raw, unhinged moral cretin who answers only to his basic instincts. Stunning cinematography.
On the periphery of Verhoeven's satirical genius, he's got an undermentioned strong sense of craft. With this one, and Showgirls, he's filmed some of the sexiest stuff on film, the characters vehement cat-like sexual advances just like the roundelays of Sharon Stone's tongue against Douglas' wide-eyed desire to believe in her innocence, but only so he can keep fucking her, while he slowly adopts her attitude himself.
Felt like a mixture of Hitchcock, De Palma, and Ferrara...but I never thought it reached the heights of any of those at their best. The dialogue was snappy and entertaining, but things ultimately got too "bestseller mystery novel"-ly for me. 3/5.
While it sometimes seems to contain much clarity of direction and visual style, the acting often feels stilted and uncomfortable. I am torn with this picture. It feels both childish and overwrought in the end I fear.
Joe Ezsterhas' sleazy, cliche-ridden script is utterly ridiculous, with its cheesy dialogue and plot-twist marathon final act. But somehow the strong cast and Paul Verhoeven's slick, stylish direction manage to make it decent entertainment in spite of the story. It's almost as if it knows it's complete trash, and just goes for it anyways. A pretty awful movie on most levels, but also entertaining pulp.