Basic Instinct

Basic Instinct

The take-no-prisoners sex thriller from 1992 now stands as a milestone in the career of screenwriter Joe Eszterhas, but in the hands of director Paul Verhoeven Basic Instinct is an undeniably stylish and provocative study of obsession. In the role that made her a star (and showed the audience a little more skin than she intended), Sharon Stone plays the cleverly manipulative novelist Catherine Tramell who snares San Francisco detective Nick Curran (Michael Douglas) with her insatiable sexual appetite during the investigation of her boyfriend's murder. Tramell is the prime suspect, but the plot twists and turns until Curran is trapped in a dangerous cycle of dead ends and unsolved murders, never sure if Tramell is committing the crimes or if it is some other, unknown suspect. With a plot that keeps viewers guessing, Basic Instinct is the work of a director who is clearly in his element. --Jeff Shannon

Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Director(s): Paul Verhoeven
Production: Artisan Entertainment
  Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 21 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
A brutal murder. A brilliant killer. A cop who can't resist the danger.
Flesh seduces. Passion kills.

Dr. Lamott:
I see two possibilities. One: The person who wrote this book is your murderer and acted out the killing described in ritualistic, literal detail. Two: Someone who wants to harm the writer read the book and enacted the killing described to incriminate her.

What if the writer did it? What are we dealing with?

Dr. Lamott:
You're dealing with a devious, diabolical mind. You see, this book had to have been written at least six months, maybe even years before it was published, which means that the writer had to have at least planned the crime in the subconscious, back then. Now the fact that she carried it out indicates psychopathic obsessive behavior in terms not only of the killing itself but also in terms of applied advance defense mechanism.

You know, sometimes I can't tell sh*t from shinola, Doc. What was all that you just said?

She intended the book to be her alibi.

Dr. Lamott:

She's going to say: Do you think I'd be dumb enough to kill anyone in the exact way I described in my book? I wouldn't do that because then I'd know I'd be the suspect.

So what if it's not the writer? What if it's, uh, someone who read the book?

Dr. Lamott:
You're dealing, then, with someone so obsessed that he or she is willing to kill an irrelevant and innocent victim in order to place the blame on the person who wrote that book. I'm talking about a deep-seated, obsessional hatred and an utter lack of respect for human life.

So we've got a once-in-a-lifetime, top-of-the-line, looney-tooney the way you cut it -- that's what you're saying, right, Doc?

Dr. Lamott:
You're dealing with someone very dangerous and very ill.

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