- Directed by Lawrence Kasdan
- August 28, 1981 (US)
A shady lawyer is seduced by femme fatale, and soon they plot to murder her husband.
Body Heat is a film noir thriller starring William Hurt and Kathleen Turner that was reportedly inspired by the classic Double Indemnity. This is film noir through and through. Matty (Turner) is a femme fatale who you think at first does have an attraction to lawyer Ned Racine (Hurt) but as the film goes on there are little bits and pieces dropped that let you know she is in vastly more control of what is going on than one would initially believe.
Turner is fantastic as Matty. Turner has potent sexuality in this film. She is all sultry and seductive and heck I might even kill for her in this scenario. Turner makes Matty seductive with a look, her voice, her walk. She made the character into a person.
William Hurt’s Ned is a bit of slimy lawyer. He’s not someone you would want your daughter to bring home but as a friend to other guys he’s just fine. He is smart enough to be an adequate lawyer but dumb enough to be tricked by very good sex. Racine prefers to avoid attachments and seeks out one-night stands. And his clientele is a shady as he is as exemplified by Teddy Lewis (Mickey Rourke).
Until watching Body Heat I had no clue that Ted Danson was in it and honestly he is quite good. His Peter Lowenstein is just as jerky of a guy as Ned, but I would call Peter a little more trustworthy. As an actor Danson really sells it here. I have seen him in serious stuff that came after this, but he was not quite as good as he was here. Maybe that time on Cheers damaged his dramatic skills.
That John Barry score! The man was a legend. I know him best from his James Bond work as do many others, but he did so much more. He was one of those artists whose music by itself was amazing, but it also made whatever film it was used in so much better. It made a scene sexier or more exciting or more tense or you could just put it on and relax.
Here comes some nitpicking on my part. I know it is to create an aesthetic, but it bothers me. In the film there are points where there is heavy fog. That fog is clearly a smoke pot or four just off camera. I’m not sure what science all goes into it but it appears to be a difficult to master science. It is one of those things I think no one should try to do ever! At best here it looks bad. At worst it looks really fake and silly. And it is difficult to maintain cohesion from shot to shot.
And I know this may make me sound like an old prude, but I don’t necessarily think there needs to be as much nudity as there was in this film. Nor did we need to see any real elements of the sex scenes. It was done probably because they could and they were trying to be hip and edgy. It doesn’t really hurt the movie but it’s just unnecessary fluff. We know they went a boinking just by the leadup.
And it is hot everywhere they go in this movie. Even with air conditioning running there is not a cool spot to be found. The literal heat aspect is laid on a bit thick to help drive home the metaphorical heat aspect.
The story is interesting and it will hold you as you watch Racine fall for Matty’s well laid trap. The ending in part is set up pretty early in the film. It comes off as a bit of a pointless moment. I was like wondering why it was even included in the story up until the ending.
In the story Ned is undone largely by doing the things that he cautioned against along with his own lust. There is no slick investigation or antagonist he plays cat and mouse with but rather his own blindness to the situation.
Body Heat is good more modern film noir. The performances are not bad and so is the story. The issue is that while revolutionary for the time it is only good now. Because of that I somewhat recommend this.