Body of Evidence (1993) starring Madonna, Willem Dafoe, Julianne Moore, Anne Archer, Joe Mantegna, Frank Roberts, Lillian Lehman, Frank Langella directed by Uli Edel Movie Review

Body of Evidence (1993)   2/52/52/52/52/5

Madonna as Rebecca Carlson in Body of Evidence

Hot Wax but No Evidence of a Hot Body

After "Basic Instinct" breathed life into the erotic thriller genre back in 1992 a whole slurry of would be erotic thrillers trading on risque sex started to hit the big screens, but only a handful managed to get anywhere close to being as entertaining as "Basic Instinct". "Body of Evidence" starring Madonna and Willem Dafoe never got anywhere close to it's predecessor neither in it being thrilling or erotic. Although on its release it did cause considerable controversy due to numerous sex scenes featuring a naked Madonna writhing around in supposed ecstasy, especially those which focussed on the use of hot candle wax and sex in a car park.

When a millionaire is discovered dead, hand cuffed to his bed, and with cocaine found in his system, his mistress Rebecca Carlson (Madonna - A League of Their Own) is arrested on a charge of murder. Whilst trying to prove her innocence, lawyer Frank Dulaney (Willem Dafoe - Streets of Fire) succumbs to her sexual charms and becomes embroiled in a tawdry, kinky affair with her. But when new evidence crops up during the trial, he stars to doubt her innocence after all.

Madonna in Body of Evidence

Put simply, "Body of Evidence" tries emulate the success of "Basic Instinct" by, well other than increasing the number of sex scenes little else to be honest and never getting close to achieving the excitement of it's better known predecessor. Ignoring the supposed erotic nature of the movie for a moment then all you are left with is a poorly crafted courtroom drama which feels like a rather mundane filler for when the next explicit sex scene crops up. There really is no excitement or a sense of tension from the main storyline and is frankly quite tedious. Even attempts to incorporate twists are clearly sign posted as is the terrible climax, if you excuse the pun. That is one of the big reasons why "Body of Evidence" fails, because it does not pay enough attention to creating a thrilling, edge of your seat story with suspense and tension to excite you.

What this does mean is that "Body of Evidence" appears to trade on its erotic nature which in fact is not a good thing. There is no denying that the movie has more than it's fair share of sex scenes from the controversial candle wax scene, the lift scene which leads to the infamous car park scene as well as the opening sequence. But then in all honesty they seem too in your face and not really part of the storyline. I am sure some will find a naked Madonna romping around in various sex scenes titillating but equally I am sure many will find these supposedly erotic sex scenes quite laughable. For me it just feels they have gone for the shock factor with the gratuitous amount of nudity and sex rather than trying to enhance the storyline with true sexual tension.

Now I like Madonna as a singer, I think she is remarkably talented but when it comes to acting, well other than a couple of movies where she does shine I often find her to be to over the top, which is the case here. Not once did I get a sense that her character Rebecca Carlson was really a devious sexual predator who would use her body to further herself to the extent of killing someone whether intentionally or accidentally. What I did get was someone who enjoys participating in kinky sex, although Madonna's performance in these scenes was seriously over the top causing them not to have the intended steamy nature but more like soft-porn voyeurism. Plainly put, it was just a poor performance from someone who has proved that in the right movie such as "Evita" can perform with the best.

Opposite Madonna is Willem Dafoe who seems to put in an equally dire performance, which for someone who is a popular actor is a little out of character. Talking of character, well Frank Dulaney is nothing more than a dull 2 dimensional prop. As the male lead Dafoe should be delivering a strong performance making his character both interesting and important, but he doesn't, often being overshadowed by Madonna's over the top theatrics. The worse thing is that when it comes to the supposedly torrid affair between Carlson and Dulaney, there was no real chemistry to support this making those sex scenes forced and lifeless, especially when you get a shot of Dafoe grimacing as hot wax is poured onto his body.

Supporting performances are equally inadequate and even the lovely Julianne Moore cannot breathe life into yet another 2 dimensional character, although she rarely gets any screen time so manages to come out of this movie with her reputation still intact.

What this all boils down to is that "Body of Evidence" is a wannabe "Basic Instinct", a very inadequate one at that. It is neither very thrilling or to be honest erotic, despite the various sex scenes. I am sure some people will gain pleasure from watching a naked Madonna romping around but it just doesn't do it for me and if you are after a serious erotic thriller then it's probably best to stay clear of this.