Monday, January 18, 2010

Film Review: BODY OF EVIDENCE (1993, Uli Edel)

Stars: 2 of 5.
Running Time: 101 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Willem Dafoe, Madonna (DICK TRACY), Joe Mantegna (HOUSE OF GAMES, HOMICIDE), Frank Langella (MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE, FROST/NIXON), Julianne Moore (SAFE, TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE: THE MOVIE), Anne Archer (FATAL ATTRACTION, SHORT CUTS), Jürgen Prochnow (TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME, DAS BOOT), Charles Hallahan (THE THING, VISION QUEST). Written by Brad Mirman (HIGHLANDER III, THE GOOD SHEPHERD). Music by Graeme Revell (SIN CITY, CHILD'S PLAY 2).
Tag-line: "An act of love, or an act of murder?"
Best one-liner: "It's not a crime to be a beautiful woman." ALSO: "It's not a crime to be a great lay!"

As promised, BODY OF EVIDENCE is amazingly bad. And it's the sort of bad movie that I don't realllly ever need to see again, not ever. That's not to say that there's no gold here. There is definitely some gold. Joe Mantegna discussing nipple clamps. Frank Langella somberly elucidating how Madonna fingering herself drove him wild.

Langella hangs his head in shame. Mantegna closes his eyes and pretends it's a Mamet picture.

Willem Dafoe declaring the self-evident truth, "It's not a crime to be a great lay." Julianne Moore doing that whole 'anguished wife' routine.

"How did you get those candle wax burns? TELLL ME!!!"

There are a lot of great actors here who were happy to collect a paycheck and then head for the fuckin' hills. Then there's Madonna. Madonna is not a 'great actor.' She's probably at her best in DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN, where the role cleverly called for her to only ‘look cool’ and keep the talking to a minimum. Here, she's talking a LOT, and she's trying real hard to be ‘sexy.’

Welcome to Sexytown, U.S.A. Population: Madonna. And why is a heavenly choir playing? Well, in my opinion, that unanswered question finds resolution nearly 20 years later with 'ANTICHRIST.'

And the forced sexiness is utterly macabre. The pacing is EXCRUCIATING. How long can we watch Madonna alternatingly pour hot wax and champagne on Dafoe's nipples as stock, steamy Spanish guitar plays? Well, watch the movie and find out.


Dafoe is a goddamned trouper.

DAMN this movie is so KINKY and FORBIDDEN. It depicts scenes involving HANDCUFFS, CLOTHES-RIPPING, and other such HANKY-PANKERIES!

Sometimes a mere picture is worth one thousand words.

Madonna cops a feel. Dafoe's look says it all.

Wait one minute! Whose manly hand is whose?

Madonna prepares to smash a light bulb and then have sex on top of it. I think BODY OF EVIDENCE was hoping to instill a Pavlovian reaction within the viewer where broken glass = arousal. If that's the case, you probably shouldn't watch TOTAL RECALL right afterward.

Anyway, I forgot to mention that all of this accompanies a legal thriller. The trial is overseen by an incredibly sassy judge who is always insisting that "I will not allow this trial to become a circus!," but it always does anyway.


The spectators are those same eternally muttering, easily shocked people from every courtroom drama who mumble "Rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb" into their cupped hands every few minutes. Whew.

There's an awesome vintage featurette on the DVD which has all manner of trite sound bites like Madonna saying "She's a complicated woman- I can relate to that" and a sold-out Mantegna remarking that "we only have phenomenons like [Madonna] at certain intervals in history." However, Dafoe stands fast when asked about the Material Girl: "She's always investigating, uh, new things." Ha!

Madonna tries new things, the likes of which we haven't seen since at least DICK TRACY.

Two stars.

-Sean Gill


Mantegna informs Dafoe of the forthcoming sequel: BODY OF EVIDENCE II: HARDBODIES.

P.P.S. And don't worry, Willem, this sort of thing happens to the best of 'em.


J.D. said...

Yeah, this is a pretty awful movie but kinda fun to watch because it is so unbelievably bad! It's also staggering to see just how many good actors are in this turkey. I guess the powers that be figured that by sticking that many skilled thespians around Madonna it would make her look better. Wrong!

Anonymous said...

it was ok
it not as terrible people think it is but its not great either

i love madonna as a singer
and as an actress she is good

she did the best she could with this basic instinct Ripp off
one of the biggest problems in this movie was chemestry between madonna and Wiiliam Dafoe.

when we see BI
sharon stone and michael douglas were amazing togahter
both are amazing actors

Tempest said...

Madonna trying to act is sad to watch. The sex scenes were over-the-top and not sexy at all. I also did not like her look during this area...the pencil-thin eyebrows and the really light blond hair--it is just very unappealing. I agree, she was decent in DSS, but she needs to stick to singing. Her turn in Dick Tracy wasn't too bad, either, but acting is not her strong point. I gather she regrets this oversexed period of her career, she just got way too trashy.