A review of “Basic Instinct 2” by Jeanne Aufmuth


Stars: * 1/2

Rating: R for excessive nudity, violence and language

Run Time: 1 hour, 53 minutes



Sharon Stone wipes the slate clean with an outrageously trashy performance that gives new meaning to the word camp.

“Basic Instinct” made Stone a star the moment she uncrossed her legs in front of Michael Douglas and assorted googly-eyed SF detectives. As iconic crime novelist cum murderess Catherine Tramell Stone delivered the goods; a deliciously evil manslayer who cut a steely swath through life and wielded a mean ice-pick.

Flash forward to present-day London. Opening frames feature Tramell maneuvering a Laviolette C8 at dangerous speeds through a dark night with a stoned soccer superstar at her side. Not so stoned that he can’t guide her through a high-octane orgasm before she plows car and star into the bottom of the Thames.

That’s our Catherine; seductress, tramp and killer. Everything’s a weapon and everyone’s an enemy. Dr. Michael Glass (David Morrissey) thinks he can help, taking on Catherine’s case in order to clean up the cobwebs of her dusky psyche. The diagnosis? Sexy, omnipotent risk addict who manipulates those around her while challenging the psychoanalytic system. Surprise, surprise.

The plot thickens when a prickly cop (David Thewlis) gets into the act, determined to put Catherine behind bars. Turns out the good doctor also has a shady past involving an ex-patient and the girlfriend he murdered while under Glass’ care. Add to the mix an ex-wife who’s sleeping with the tabloid mole who’s threatening to run a damaging expose on Glass. Plus a whip-smart co-worker (Charlotte Rampling) who doles out practical personal advice with icy composure.

Now you’ve got yourself a movie. Or at least a glossy tableau to support Stone’s feral, over-the-top machinations. Her double-dealing bitch is every bit the manufactured diva; each line a cliché and every predatory posture posed for maximum display of a frighteningly fit body and artificially-enhanced assets.

Nothing like a good drama that has the audience in stitches. Plot is a labyrinth of flexuous twists that ultimately turn to dust. Best of show belongs to Stone’s relentlessly stagy delivery of such plummy bons mots as “Don’t take it so hard; even Oedipus didn’t see his mother coming”. Gulp.

Only Thewlis dishes out the good stuff, offering a whiff of dignity amidst the stench of bad theater. “BI2” teems with abstract symbolism, everything glistening and phallic and drenched in double-entendre. Set design is so cutting edge it hurts.

Manipulation, sex, intrigue and a high body count. Not without a lingering element of guilty pleasure but ultimately just another walk in the park for the mad dame Catherine.