Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Basic Instinct

In Roger Ebert’s 1992 review, he wrote, "The film is like a crossword puzzle. It keeps your interest until you solve it, by the ending. Then it's just a worthless scrap with the spaces filled in." Narratively speaking, the same could be said for a number of Hitchcock films; It’s the style that keeps us coming back to those, and it’s the style, as well as the subtext, that keeps me coming back to Verhoeven’s film. I think it’s incredibly shortsighted of Ebert to see the film in this light considering it’s so heavily indebted to Hitchcock, whose films, for the most part, played exactly as he describes above. Verhoeven always has had an uncanny knack for capturing the particular milieu of whatever genre he’s tackling. Even though he’s over-the-top, he never comes right out and admits his purpose. Perhaps that’s why so many people have trouble with him: he’s so good at it that you think what you’re getting is just another genre film competently crafted and nothing more. I think maybe that’s why people have a hard time looking beyond the general silliness of something such as Starship Troopers or the sex and violence in Basic Instinct as films that are saying something beyond their gruff narratives and ultra-violent surfaces. I also think that the knock on Basic Instinct — and Verhoeven in general — derives from over-the-top tendencies that allow the film to get lost by the end. It results in a well-made, but not great, experience. For me, I love the way Verhoeven goes storming into his narratives, and Basic Instinct (even though it’s “lesser” Verhoeven), 20 years later, still stands as one of his most loopy, over-the-top and slyly fun rides.


Post a Comment