Body of Evidence (1992)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Body of Evidence</strong> (1992)

(In French, On TV, February 2019) If you were around at the time, 1992 was peak-Madonna year. Sold to the masses as an aggressive sex goddess, 1992 saw the near-simultaneous release of an album called Erotica, a coffee-table book of nudes called Sex and a ridiculously over-the-top film tilted Body of Evidence perhaps only because the two previous titles were already taken. Aiming for a neo-noir but settling for trashy thriller, this film took place in familiar territory by featuring Willem Dafoe as a lawyer asked to take on the case of a woman (guess who?) accused of murdering her husband. Before the first act is even over, erotic scenes grind the action down to a halt, rudely interrupting a few adults cosplaying noir archetypes and making for a much simpler plot given that the movie would barely make it to feature-film length without the nudity. Despite Madonna being Madonna, I’m not complaining: After all, Julianne Moore and Anne Archer are also involved. (Plus Defoe, playing a suitably slimy lawyer in between numerous trysts.) Body of Evidence is about atmosphere rather than narrative and it features one of the least surprising “not guilty” decisions in a while—after all, we’re in a noir and this is what happens in a noir. The incredibly familiar story is perversely meant to be comforting, as we have a sense that this is just a big game updated to early-1990s aesthetics. I still haven’t decided where I stand about it. Candid depictions of lust have their place in cinema and Hollywood could make a few more movies in that subgenre. On the other hand, Body of Evidence may not be the example to follow. At its best, it’s mildly enjoyable as a trashy thriller blessed with far bigger names than it deserves. At its worst, however, it’s not just boring but actively irritating in how it insists that it’s hot despite often missing the mark. But, hey, surely peak-Madonna was a thing because some people liked it, right?

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