Directed by: Paul Verhoeven
Screenplay by: Joe Eszterhas
Tagline: "Love Hurts"
Rated: R for strong violence and sensuality, nudity, drug use, and language.
"Basic Instinct" is a racy murder mystery that smacks of sexual and psychological tension. This thriller will keep your pulse racing as you follow the trials of SFPD's Det. Nick Curran's quest to solve the latest homicide case in which the deadly yet enticing Catherine Trammell, psychologist and author, is the primary murder suspect. A complicated juxtaposition of personal and professional affairs gets things steamy as the plotline races with intense sexuality and mystery behind the real murder(ers) of the many crimes to follow. In "Basic Instinct" one finds there is a fine line between sex, sexuality, love, and murder, and sometimes its most thrilling to walk on all sides of the line.
Set in San Francisco, 1992, the film opens with a racy scene in which a retired rocky Johnny Boz is enjoying life in the fast lane until his life is cut short by a vindictive woman and an ice pick. Pan to Detective Nick Curran (Michael Douglas) and Gus Moran (George Dzunda), the San Francisco officers assigned to the case, as they survey the murder scene. Discovering Boz to have a girlfriend, the two detectives head to the primary suspect's house, the posh estate of millionaire heiress Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone), for further investigation. Former Magna cum Laude graduate from Cal Berkley, the double major in English and Psychology seems to have ironically written a book "Love Hurts" a year prior to her boyfriend's murder which directly mirrors her contrived literary murder scene. While at Catherine's house, Nick and Gus are greeted by a precarious woman by the name of Roxy (Leilani Sarelle) who makes it abundantly clear that she is very, very close to her longtime 'girlfriend' Catherine, but, sorry, she's not home right now.
Hunting Catherine down at her upscale beach house, the two detectives attempt to implicate her to the crime, but Catherine plays it cool and flippantly volunteers for further investigation, including a deliberate polygraph test which she flies with passing colors, to Nick's suspicion. Interestingly, as time passes Nick observes how Catherine keeps making the case personal, constantly sidestepping the investigation with pat commentary involving Nick's personal life, confidential information she has somehow come to acquire. As Nick grows increasingly on edge he turns to former girlfriend and professional colleague, police psychologist Dr. Beth Garner (Jeanne Tripplehorn). With tension mounting, both sexual and personal, a quick rendezvous with an old flame makes things complicated between Dr. Garner, Nick, and the latest homicide case, involving Trammel who ironically happens to be a former classmate of Beth at Berkley, 1983.
Nevertheless Nick continues with the case and proceeds to follow Catherine while his partner Gus, does some background investigation; Beth all the while is monitoring his 'psychological stability' and his personal affairs, of which she grows rather weary once she comes to suspect that Nick may be flirting with the enemy. 'Flirting' may be the understatement of the year as things quickly go from serious to sensual between Tramell and Nick, all the while her female partner Roxy standing jealously by. AS things between Catherine and Nick get more intimate the two begin to share deep seeded secrets which may hold the key to case, such as Catherine's former affair with his ex-girlfriend Dr. Garner, her incessant affiliation with murderers, Nick's deep seeded regret for mistakes concerning his professional past, how Nick's wife murdered herself, his former cocaine habit, the fact that both Nick and Catherine enjoy the thrill of life, the ability to control, etc. Dr. Beth starts to take a more than necessarily interested involvement in the progress of the homicide case which begins to raise suspicions in a very confused Nick Curran. To make matters more interesting it seems as if Catherine's latest novel involves a police detective who will allegedly fall for the wrong women and pay for it with his life. Of course Nick begins to believe that he is to be the realistic manifestation of the literary protagonist and the fear for his life begins to intermingle with the sexual tension between him and Catherine.
But it seems as if here, between the case of Nick and Catherine, 'basic instinct' will prevail, and despite the danger of mingling with the suspect, Nick and Catherine begin to get hot and steamy, much to Dr. Beth's demise. As their new 'relationship' advances, Nick still keeps a weary eye out for Catherine's precarious acquisition of personal information that is more than confidential. Gradually people begin to wind up dead, both in the past and the present as the investigation continually involves other people. Apparently everyone surrounding Catherine winds up dead, just as several people appear to die after several years of affiliation with Dr. Garner, Catherine's ex-girlfriend. Additionally, Catherine's latest girlfriend, Roxy, winds up dead after a jealous escapade causes her to hunt Nick down, unsuccessfully. Meanwhile Nick continues his dangerous liaison with Catherine which allegedly brings the worse out of him as he begins to take up smoking, drinking, and other bad habits of the past.
As tension, both sexual and professional mounts, Gus and Nick do their best to crack the case, but when one of the officers currently scuffling with Nick winds up dead, Nick is relieved of duty and Gus is left to finish the case alone. But Nick won't quit his duty simply because his badge is suspended, and he allows his personal affairs with Catherine to exploit pertinent information. One by one witnesses are excluded form the case and it all boils down to Catherine and Dr. Garner. But who did it, the blonde or the brunette, or perhaps both, or maybe neither, With Catherine's parents and former husband and current boyfriend all dead she looks a strong suspect, but so too does Dr. Garner's jealous affection for Nick, her dead ex-husband, her affair with Catherine and her mysterious past also implicate her to the crime. After Nick runs into Beth immediately following Gus's motive, he instinctively assumes her to have been the murderer, of both Gus and Johnny Boz; the motive being to frame Catherine out of jealous spite. Nick opens fire and the SFPD closes the case. But when Nick returns home to find Catherine, the same woman who five minutes ago cast him out of her home since her latest book was done and his services were no longer needed, is found on his couch requesting a second chance. Another fiery rendezvous seems to smack of forever happiness until Catherine reaches over to the side of the bed with a guilty look on her face. Is she really Boz's killer, what's in her hand, and will her and Nick ever be able to live happily ever after, or will he too meet the same fate as all her acquaintances? Moreover, if she was Boz's killer did she then too kill the rest of her dead acquaintances? And what of Dr. Garner, who certainly seems guilty enough?
"Basic Instinct" is a non-stop sensual delivery of action, mystery, suspense, murder, sex, etc. With an absolute jaw dropping performance Sharon Stone steals the scene in her racy and spellbinding performance as the dangerously intriguing black widow Catherine Trammell. A twist from the stereotypical film noir villainess stock type, Sharon Stone's portrayal of the psychologically profound, sexually ambivalent, black widow takes the category to a whole new level, and Michael Douglas does a respectable job keeping up with her racy intensity that pervades the screen. Still, the darkness, the primal aspects of Michael Douglas's character are just as powerful and compelling as the mystique of Sharon Stone's character. Also adding to the powerful star list is a solid performance by Jeanne Tripplehorn as Dr, Garner and George Dzunda as Gus.
"Basic Instinct" is a racy, sexy, erotic thriller that raises the pulse and keeps your heart pumping from start to end. A highly controversial film that actually sparked much tension and met much rebuttal from the gay community, particularly surrounding the early 90's San Francisco, "Basic Instinct" became a film with much buzz surrounding its name even prior to its release. Nevertheless, director Verhoeven believed to actually be supporting the gay community in this racy homage to the psychological thriller about a lesbian killer that murder men with an ice pick in the most vicious way. Despite whatever ambivalent feelings the film may have provoked with the gay community however, the film became the number one grossing film of 1992 and ran away with several awards and nominations including 2 Oscar nominations, 4 wins (BMI Film Music Award, Germany's Golden Screen Award, and the MTV Movie Award for Best Female Performance and Most Desirable Female), and 16 other nominations.
Sharon Stone plays Catherine Tramell, the ambivalent suspect in the SFPD's latest homicide case after her boyfriend is murdered in the exact same fashion as the murder scene in her famous novel.
Michael Douglas plays Det. Nick Curran, SFPD's lead detective involved in the homicide case involving the murder of Johnny Boz and his suspected girlfriend Catherine Trammell.
George Dzunda plays Gus Moran, Nick Curran's right hand man.
Jeanne Tripplehorn plays Dr. Beth Garner, Nick Curran's ex-girlfriend, SFPD's psychologist, and former lover to Catherine Trammell.
Leilani Sarelle plays Roxy, Catherine Trammell's jealous lover.