Directed by: Lawrence Kasdan
Screenplay by: Lawrence Kasdan
Tagline: “When it gets hot like this people try to start killing each other”
Rated: R for strong violence and sensuality, nudity, drug use, and language.
"Body Heat" centers around small Floridian town defense attorney Ned Racine and his racy affair with the notorious Matty Walker in the midst of the town's historic summer heat wave. As things go from hot to ultra-steamy between the two a plan to off Matty's husband is contrived and executed. What happens afterwards is a chaotic tangled web of sex, lies, money, and deceit where all seem to fall victim to a pretty face and pack of smoky voiced lies and temptations.
Set in contemporary time in a small Floridian town, "Body Heat" commences with the depiction of one of the cities most uncanny and long standing heat waves in the history of the state. As Ned Racine (William Hurt) has to call off a case in which he is representing a bum defendant he heads, defeated, to the local diner where he and the prosecutor, his friend, Peter Lowenstein (Ted Danson), lament and celebrate the case respectively.
As time passes by Ned runs into the intriguing Matty Walker (Kathleen Turner) who, after a few witty banter sessions, he gets to know very well, both personally and intimately. Married to the lucrative Edmund Walker (Richard Crenna) however, when Matty and Ned begin their long standing, frequent affair tension mounts after Matty's friend Mary Ann (Kathleen Turner) sees through the scheme, Matty's niece Heather witnesses a sexual innuendo, and a dinner party with Edmund leaks his confession that if her were ever to catch anyone sleeping with his wife he would quote, "kill him with my own bare hands".
As things get steamier and steamier in the dangerous liaison between Matty and Edmund, the lovers realize that if Edmund unknowingly suggests he would voluntarily kill the man sleeping with his wife, Ned suggests that he and Matty should kill Edmund first. After much rhetorical persuasion the two agree to do the deed and, just as Ned's friend predicted, "the heat makes people do strange things, bend the laws which they think no longer apply to them since it seems a 'state of emergency'", Ned begins to scheme a way to off Matty's husband in a manner that would get both off scot-free.
Further complicating the nefarious scheme the two pontificate altering Edmund's will and forfeiting the pre-nup so that Matty can ensure she receives all of Edmund's fortune. But Ned highly disagrees and believes any altercation would arise too much suspicion f the man were to suddenly wind up dead and his will conspicuously altered. But Matty seems hesitant to consent and the film smacks of Matty's potential greed getting in the way. Nevertheless the two plan on setting a trap and contrive a way to stage an arson attack that will kill Edmund. But the plan will require meticulous execution of all the variables and when Edmund suddenly thinks he hears something downstairs the original plan goes awry and Edmund witnesses his killer, Ned, just before he knocks him unconscious and murders him in front of Matty. Needing to drive the body elsewhere, Ned heads out of town to burn the body elsewhere. But just as he exits the hideaway the cops drive by his car, but ironically don't seem to notice his car.
All seems well until Edmund's lawyer calls to question the resubmitted will that Ned was so adamantly opposed to Matty submitting. But as was foreshadowed, her greed may have seemed to gotten the best of her. As it turns out, apparently Racine has run into the same problem with will forging, and when Edmund's lawyer arranges a meeting they discover that it seems as if Edmund's will being illegitimate, he has died without a will thereby the total of his assets are to be allotted to his spouse, who mysteriously seems to feign surprise at the exciting news. Of course Edmund's sister Heather was rather expecting to benefit from the fortune, and Lowenstein, present at the meeting, seems a bit suspicious as to the sudden turn of events in Racine's relationship with Matty Walker and begins to warn Ned to stay away from Matty.
Attempting to be rhetorically witty, Ned tries to allude to his new relationship with Matty, which would be legal now that her husband is dead, so as to alleviate his friend's concern. But his friends are convinced that Matty is bad news and that he will inevitably screw up, as he always does. As it turns out, Matty seems to have a rough past, with a drug and criminal record. Complicating matters, Matty's niece returns to testify against the sexual discrepancy, Matty's best friend Mary Ann is missing, and his two friends work to crack the case, ironically, not in his favor.
As Matty and Ned try to dodge the detectives, Ned runs into an attorney from a different district who alludes to the fact that maybe Matty had Ned's number all along, he might have been just another pawn in her master plan. But no, she swears she loves him, it couldn't be. Even Teddy (Mickey Rourke) seems to suspect that Matty may not be playing her cards straight when he alludes to her inquiry about how to rig bombs and such. But is Ned in too deep? As the saying goes, love is blind, but just how blind does one have to be before they can see the truth?
"Body Heat" is a sizzling murder mystery that comes to life in the chemistry between Hurt and Turner in this crime thriller. Kathleen Turner plays the wounded femme fatale of film noir to a 'T'; she smokes in her sensuality, she humbles in her beauty, and she exudes that intense intrigue so hard to turn away from. So too does Hurt immerse himself in his role as the credible man turned sour by love. Together the two light up the scene in their sensual erotica scenes, without them ever being too over the top or brazenly crude. Ted Danson and Mickey Rourke also add to the star power of the film.
"Body Heat" is a great story line that smacks of originality yet familiarity. All the conventions of the plot are recognizable enough, yet there is something very different, something very compelling about the way the stock types transform into something new and dark. Between Kathleen Turner's lithe figure, smoky voice, and piercing eyes, and Hurt's flippantly pat style, the two bounce off each other like fireflies as the film progresses in an all out steamy setting where a love affair can only turn up the heat to an uncomfortable degree in an already blazing city. Credit to the plot, it is unpredictable enough, and the film keeps you in suspense until the very end. In a film about sex, lies, and deceit, Turner's character makes love look like child's play; the prospect of fame and fortune has never been deadlier.
"Body Heat" was nominated for a golden globe as well as several other nominations.
William Hurt pays Ned Racine, a defense attorney with a penchant for beautiful, married, dangerous women.
Kathleen Turner plays Matty Walker, Edmund Walker's trophy wife and siren who tempts her way into Racine's heart and Edmund's protected fortunes.
Kathleen Turner/ Kim Zimmer plays Mary Ann Simpson, Matty's best friend who comes to know of the affair quite early in the game and goes mysteriously missing thereafter.
Richard Crenna plays Edmund Walker, Matty Walker's much older, very lucrative, detestable husband.
Ted Danson plays Peter Lowenstein, Ned's friend and sometimes competitive attorney.