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Body of Evidence
1993 - not rated - 101 Mins.
Director: Uli Edel
Producer: Dino De Laurentiis
Written By: Brad Mirman
Starring: Madonna, Willem Dafoe, Joe Mantegna, Anne Archer, Julianne Moore
Review by: Jake Cremins
It takes a full forty-five seconds after the MGM logo for 'Body of Evidence' to display its first nudity, which in a story like this is a sign of restraint. In this case, it consists of Madonna writhing atop an older man, on a videotape which will prove crucial to the plot (and will therefore be shown again several times). Sadly, the man had a heart condition and is dead as a doornail. Despite no real evidence of foul play, Rebecca Carlson (Madonna), the "beautiful" younger woman, is arrested for murder. How did she do it? Obviously, she "screwed him to death." (Yes, someone actually says that.)

I put "beautiful" in quotes not to be cruel, but to point out a major shortcoming, which is that the entire plot hinges upon Rebecca being irresistibly gorgeous. Let's face it. Madonna is coarse, bold, sexy, sometimes witty (though not here), but not a stunning beauty. Crammed into the role of a sultry, sophisticated femme fatale, she has all of the sex appeal of a glazed donut. I know this because there is indeed a glazed donut in 'Body of Evidence', and its closeup is more flattering than all of Madonna's put together.

Still, she hardly drags the movie down. This is the kind of script that assumes a murder trial involving kinky sex is downright boring without lawyers hotly objecting to something every ten seconds, and the result is scenes where both attorneys stand up dramatically and shout "Your Honor!" and then slink back into their chairs, unable to think of anything else to say.

But what about the sex, you ask? Well, if the sight of Willem Dafoe having hot candle wax poured on that most delicate of areas sets you all atingle, you're in for a treat. The rest of us have to sit through interminable "erotic" S&M scenes that involve such stuff as shards of broken glass and handcuffs, but also have all the usual shots of roaring fireplaces and curtains blowing in the wind, putting them somewhere between a fight scene and a Playboy Fantasy video. It doesn't help that Dafoe, talented actor that he is, is not someone most of us feel a burning desire to see “flailing in the throes of sexual ecstasy” (again, I really am quoting the dialogue here). If you have to ask whether he and Madonna have any chemistry, you probably deserve to find out.

Dafoe and Madonna are surrounded by such talented actors as Anne Archer, Jurgen Prochnow and Frank Langella, in roles no less embarrassing for being brief. None are as hilarious as Madonna's character, though, who gets several choice speeches about what she does in her free time, mixed with preachy reverse-moralizing ("They do think about it. They just don't talk about it. They're hypocrites"). No doubt these bits are supposed to resonate as something that Madonna herself believes, even though the twist ending more or less tells us that (spoiler warning!) everything she's been saying is a lie.

No matter. If you're the type of person who can sit through her final, unbelievable monologue about her relationships with men without laughing long and hard, you're the type of person who actually believes this is an erotic thriller, and either way you'll be getting your money's worth.
Movie Guru Rating
A train wreck.  So bad some may find it unintentionally entertaining.
  1 out of 5 stars

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