Basic Instinct

Friday, April 25 - Saturday, April 26, 2014

35mm print

“BASIC INSTINCT begins with two naked bodies, a mirrored ceiling and an ice pick, which will be wielded in the heat of passion by an unidentified blond woman as she makes a nasty mess of her unsuspecting lover. Paul Verhoeven, whose films include lurid techno-thrillers (RoboCop and Total Recall) and now this red-hot, dangerously modern romance, will never be accused of not knowing how to get an audience’s attention.

“Whatever else Mr. Verhoeven winds up being assailed for, with a film that is as violent and misogynistic as it is sexually frank, he hasn’t pulled his punches. That opening murder scene serves as warning that BASIC INSTINCT is not bound by the usual rules of decorum, not even those rules that apply to homicidal psychopaths playing cat-and-mouse games with the San Francisco police. It’s no wonder that when Detective Nick Curran (Michael Douglas) and his partner, Gus (George Dzundza), first interrogate the glamorous Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone), who is the prime suspect in that ice-pick murder, they exchange wary glances over Catherine’s absolute diffidence and superiority. Neither the detectives nor the audience has seen anything quite like Catherine before.

“[Verhoeven’s] forte is slam-bang sensationalism of the sort that transcends ordinary nit-picking, and his skill is readily apparent. BASIC INSTINCT transfers Mr. Verhoeven’s flair for action-oriented material to the realm of Hitchcockian intrigue, and the results are viscerally effective even when they don’t make sense. Drawing powerfully on the seductiveness of his actors and the intensity of their situation, Mr. Verhoeven easily suspends all disbelief.

“Frankly intent on keeping its audience entertained at all costs, BASIC INSTINCT employs one dizzying car chase, some impressive California real estate, Jan De Bont’s bright and scenic cinematography, Ellen Mirojnick’s series of skin-tight costumes for Ms. Stone (who at times furthers the Hitchcock motif by dressing in the Kim Novak-Tippi Hedren mode), and Jerry Goldsmith’s effectively insidious score.” – Janet Maslin, The New York Times

  • Country USA
  • Rating R
  • Year 1992
  • Running Time 127 minutes
  • Director Paul Verhoeven

IFC Center does not generally provide advisories about subject matter or potentially triggering content in films, as sensitivities vary from person to person. In addition to the synopses, trailers and other links on our website, further information about content and age-appropriateness for specific films can be found on Common Sense Media, IMDb and as well as through general internet searches.