Body of Evidence Review

Millionaire Andrew Marsh is dead, of a heart attack. And prime suspect is his much younger mistress Rebecca Carlson (Madonna), who has recently become the prime beneficiary of his will. Could she perhaps have fucked her victim to death? Can a woman’s body be a murder weapon? As Rebecca goes on trial, her defence lawyer Frank Dulaney (Willem Dafoe) soon finds that the boundaries between professional and personal involvement are crossed at his peril…

Given Hollywood’s recent swing towards family audiences, not to mention a greater puritanism, Body of Evidence seems much older than it actually is. It’s certainly a product of its time, given the then recent success of Basic Instinct. Madonna, meanwhile, was reinventing herself as a sex symbol willing to go that much further, in her book Sex. Let her go so much further on screen, the reasoning must have gone, and count the box office receipts.

Body of Evidence is a routine courtroom drama padded out with some fairly graphic sex between Madonna and Dafoe. There’s also a strenuous bout between Dafoe and Julianne Moore, in an early and not promising role as Dulaney’s wife. Despite the explicitness, this is quite a reactionary movie: Madonna’s character is not so much sexually liberated as a vagina dentata on legs. And for all the displays of sexual acts that more than borders on sadomasochism (broken glass, candle wax), it’s beyond the pale when one male character is revealed to have had sex with another man.

Uli Edel, who made an impressive version of Last Exit to Brooklyn and before that Christiane F., is certainly no prude. But here he directs with no great flair or style, from a routine script by Brad Mirman. There’s no chemistry between the co-stars, so the bumping-and-grinding episodes become not so much erotic as tedious. Doug Milsome’s camerawork gives a gloss to the upscale surroundings, but this film has nothing going on below its surface.

Body of Evidence was cut by the MPAA to achieve a R rating. This DVD however is the European version, which corresponds to the one released with a NC-17 rating in America. It’s not quite uncut though, as there is an unrated video version in the USA which features more Madonna nudity in the candle-wax scene.

The DVD is transferred in the original ratio of 1.85:1 and is anamorphically enhanced. There are quite a few dark scenes in this film, and shadow detail is a little lacking. The picture is a tad soft, but is acceptable.

Body of Evidence was made a year or so too early to have benefited from digital sound, so the original Dolby Stereo soundtrack is presented as a 2.0 mix with surround encoding. The surrounds are used a lot for music and for sound effects such as the thunderstorm in the opening scene. The track is well balanced with the dialogue easily audible. There are four dubbed versions available, the Polish one featuring a voice in Polish speaking over a mixed-down English track.

There are sixteen chapter stops, and a range of subtitle options. The disc is encoded for Regions 2 and 4. No extras – as this is a MGM back catalogue disc, you should not expect anything else.

Unless you’re a diehard fan of Madonna, or indeed anyone else in the cast, or a diehard fan of the sleazier end of mainstream cinema, then Body of Evidence won’t be of much interest to you. If any of the above apply to you, then the DVD can be bought quite cheaply.

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Last updated: 19/04/2018 09:02:47

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