Body of Evidence (1993 film)
Body of Evidence is a 1993 American erotic thriller film produced by Dino De Laurentiis and distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It was directed by Uli Edel and written by Brad Mirman. The film stars Madonna and Willem Dafoe, with Joe Mantegna, Anne Archer, Julianne Moore, and Jürgen Prochnow in supporting roles.
|Body of Evidence|
|Directed by||Uli Edel|
|Produced by||Dino De Laurentiis|
|Written by||Brad Mirman|
|Music by||Graeme Revell|
|Edited by||Thom Noble|
Dino De Laurentiis Communications
|Box office||$38 million|
It originally received the rare NC-17 rating. The first theatrical release was censored for the purpose of obtaining an R rating, reducing the film's running time from 101 to 99 minutes. The video premiere, however, restored the deleted material. Madonna's performance in the film was universally derided by film critics and it marked her fourth film acting performance to be widely panned, following Shanghai Surprise, Who's That Girl, and Bloodhounds of Broadway.
In France and Japan, the film was released under the name Body. In Japan, Madonna's other 1993 film Dangerous Game was released there as Body II even though the films have nothing in common nor are related to each other in narrative.
An older man, Andrew Marsh, views a homemade pornographic tape. It is later revealed that Marsh died from complications stemming from erotic asphyxiation. The main suspect is the woman who has sex with Marsh in the film, Rebecca Carlson, who after being charged with murder is represented by lawyer Frank Dulaney. As the trial begins, Carlson and Dulaney enter a sadomasochistic sexual relationship behind the back of Dulaney's unsuspecting wife.
During their first sexual encounter, Frank, overcome by lust, notices too late that Rebecca is tying his arms behind his back using his own belt. Rebecca pushes him onto the bed, removes his underwear, and while he is restrained, torments him by pouring hot candle wax on his chest, stomach, and genitals, with Rebecca amused and aroused by humiliating and frustrating Frank. The two then have sex with Rebecca in complete control, a counterpoint to their relationship in the courtroom where Frank is the one in control, and a demonstration of Rebecca using a man's uncontrollable desire for her to manipulate him into subservience, as she had done with the man she is accused of killing.
Rebecca proclaims her innocence to Dulaney in private and in court, but District Attorney Robert Garrett seeks to prove that she deliberately killed Marsh in bed to receive the $8 million he left her in his will. The testimony of Marsh's private secretary, Joanne Braslow, reveals that he had a sexual relationship with Braslow that could have contributed to his death, casting a reasonable doubt as to Rebecca's guilt.
The testimony of Marsh's doctor, Alan Paley, is initially very damaging to Rebecca's defence. However, when cross-examined, Frank is able to undermine Paley's credibility and demonstrate that Paley was attempting to blackmail Rebecca into a relationship with him, and that Paley is not a credible witness. Rebecca then entices Frank in to public sex in the parking garage of the courthouse, again offering a stark juxtaposition in their relationship, where Frank is authoritative in the courtroom, but he is so in Rebecca's thrall that he is utterly deferential and subjugated to Rebecca in their sexual interactions.
Rebecca is accused in court of being a gold digger, having had previous relationships with a number of older rich men, including Jeffery Roston, who testifies that she was sexually domineering and achieved gratification by degrading him and making him beg her, recounting an incident very similar to her first encounter with Frank, a description that clearly resonates with Frank. Roston claims Rebecca abruptly ended their relationship when he had heart surgery and became healthier.
Frank accuses Rebecca of withholding information from him, angrily ending their affair. Frank discovers that his wife has learned of his adultery, for which he blames Rebecca. Frank goes to Rebecca's home and confronts her, she claims initially that she called Dulaney's home and spoke to his wife in order to establish whether he was still going to represent her, but when Frank accuses her of lying, Rebecca taunts him with what she might have told his wife. Frank angrily pushes Rebecca to the ground. She taunts him again, knowing that despite everything Frank will still not be able to resist her. However, when Rebecca has again manipulated Frank into a position to restrain him with a pair of handcuffs, he wrestles them from her and cuffs her to a bedpost so that she is at his mercy instead. Their positions reversed for the first time with Frank in control, he roughly forces himself on her.
Rebecca's testimony convinces the jury, which acquits her. Before leaving court, she mockingly thanks Dulaney for getting a guilty client off, fully aware that he cannot repeat what she said and that she cannot be tried twice for the same crime.
That night, Frank again visits Rebecca's home, where he finds her with Alan Paley, freely discussing how they conspired to kill Marsh. Rebecca sneeringly informs Frank that she deliberately used her irresistible sexual prowess to control him, that she had done the same with both Marsh and Paley, and that this is how she is able to have men do anything she wants. Rebecca taunts Paley by telling him to lie low, as he could be convicted of perjury, and tells him to leave because she has already forgotten him. An enraged Paley lashes out at Rebecca physically and, after Dulaney pulls him off, Paley shoots her twice. She plunges from a window to her death and Paley is arrested for murdering her.
Before leaving the scene with his wife to repair their relationship, Dulaney then tells Garret he should've won the case with Garrett replying: "I did".
- Madonna as Rebecca Carlson
- Willem Dafoe as Frank Dulaney
- Joe Mantegna as Robert Garrett
- Anne Archer as Joanne Braslow
- Julianne Moore as Sharon Dulaney
- Stan Shaw as Charles Briggs
- Charles Hallahan as Dr. McCurdy
- Lillian Lehman as Judge Mabel Burnham
- Mark Rolston as Detective Reese
- Jeff Perry as Gabe
- Richard Riehle as Detective Griffin
- Jürgen Prochnow as Dr. Alan Paley
- Frank Langella as Jeffrey Roston
The film was nominated for six Golden Raspberries, including Worst Picture, Worst Actor (Willem Dafoe), Worst Director, Worst Supporting Actress (Anne Archer), and Worst Screenplay, with Madonna winning Worst Actress. It also appeared on the 2005 list of Roger Ebert's most hated films. The screenplay and performances were especially disparaged. His colleague Gene Siskel called Body of Evidence a "stupid and empty thriller" that is worse than her softcore coffee table book Sex. Body of Evidence has an 8% rating at Rotten Tomatoes based on 36 reviews. The critical consensus reads "Body of Evidence's sex scenes may be kinky, but the ludicrous concept is further undone by the ridiculous dialogue." Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade of "C" on scale of A+ to F.
Body of Evidence performed poorly at the box office. In its second week it experienced a 60% drop. It grossed $13 million in the United States and Canada and $25 million internationally for a worldwide total of $38 million.
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