Hard to Defend
Watching "In Her Defense" reminds me of a joke I watched in some American sitcom about Canada being a few years behind America when it comes to trends. I mention this because "In Her Defense" is a movie from the late 90s very much in the style of the early 90s fascination with sexy thrillers such as "Basic Instinct" and "Body of Evidence". And I could go even further back because the storyline has more than a few similarities to "Body Heat" and "Double Indemnity". What does that mean well firstly "In Her Defense" feels low budget, I believe it was a direct to video release so that makes some sense, but it also means it is familiar so whilst a little entertaining with the added distinction of deaf actress Marlee Matlin actually playing the part of a deaf woman it never really leaves a lasting impression or a desire to watch again.
After being invited out to an art exhibition by his lawyer friend Debra (Sophie Lorain), defence lawyer Andrew Garfield (Michael Dudikoff) meets the beautiful artist Jane Claire (Marlee Matlin) who happens to be deaf. Immediately there is something between them and although Jane is married to the abusive Noby (Doug Sutherland) it doesn't stop them embarking on a passionate affair. But when Noby returns home early one night Andrew kills him and when Jane is charged with his murder it is up to him to prove her innocence.
So "In Her Defense" follows in a long line of sexy thrillers where the first half builds up to what appears to be Jane and Andrew getting away with murder and then the second half reveals the truth as Andrew begins to wonder whether he is a patsy in some bigger plot. It means for those who have enjoyed various sexy thrillers over the years such as "Body heat" and "Body of Evidence" what happens in "In Her Defense" during the second half isn't going to be a huge shock. In fact having picked up on similarities to these other sexy thrillers early on I was already guessing the outcome long before the twists are even suggested, which to be honest is easy to work out, the clues are definitely there to be seen. But then if this is your first sexy thriller the twists work well enough to surprise you.
The thing about "In Her Defense" is that is does feel low budget and made relatively quickly as if it was being knocked out like a TV movie. It makes it quite poor when it comes to the erotica side of the movie because when ever Andrew and Jane seem to be in the same room together they end up getting it on in front of a roaring log fire. And when they are not in a room but having a secret rendezvous in a secluded car park it doesn't stop Jane from giving Andrew a blow job, a scene which is not shocking for seeing anything but for the fact it feels desperate. It almost feels that "In Her Defense" was going for more "Body of Evidence" than "Body Heat" which is a bad move in any one's books and certainly isn't as sexually explicit.
As for the acting well to be honest Michael Dudikoff as Andrew and Sophie Lorain as his friend Debra deliver the sort of okay performance you expect from a low budget movie where they are stuck with generic characters. But the performance which grabs your attention is Marlee Matlin as Jane because she is fabulous at doing sexy and flirtatious. Watching Matlin turn up the heat brings out a spark in her eyes and it is exactly what this movie needed to keep it interesting. Of course there is also the fact that Matlin lost much of her hearing as a child and it certainly makes it authentic having her play a deaf woman, which on that subject it initially made things a little slow as we get a few scenes which are dominated by sign language but it soon picks up speed.
What this all boils down to is that "In Her Defense" is an okay direct to video movie which basically is little more of a variation on "Body Heat". For those who have never watched a sexy thriller the twists will probably work but for those who have watched "Body Heat" and the sexy thrillers of the early 90s it won't be such a huge surprise.