BODY HEAT lives up to its title.
Written: Feb 12 '00 (Updated Oct 04 '02)
Pros: This sexy, corkscrew suspense film, full of warm Gulf atmosphere, gets better on every sitting.
Cons: You may have to see it twice just to conclude that its all perfectly logical.
The Bottom Line: BODY HEAT captures the atmosphere the Floria Gulf Coast in a story that makes us easily believe tales of the chicanery that went on there during our 2000 Presidential Election.
All the people involved with BODY HEAT (1981) may look back on their work here as a Personal Best, or close to it.
For Larry Kasdan, who had co-written THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980), and written RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981), BODY HEAT was a directoral debut and a writing triumph. Although he went on to create strong films in several genres (THE BIG CHILL, 1983, THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST, 1998, WYATT EARP, 1994, etc), nothing else has the complete mastery of the medium that he displays here.
Backed with a moody, sexy musical score by John Barry, the story, if not the plot, involves an amiable disaster of a lawyer (William Hurt, his third movie, never better), who one warm breezy night on the Florida Gulf Coast enters into an affair with Mattie (Kathleen Turner, her debut), a married woman. In a number of sequences that seem to make the celluloid sweat, the affair deepens, and Mattie persuades the lawyer to murder her husband. It does not go quite as planned. That is just the first series of twists in a film which builds tension and suspense as the lawyer digs himself a deeper grave.
On hand are Mickey Rourke, as an arsonist, in a breakout performance that makes us wish success had not gone to his head; and Ted Danson, the lawyer's detective pal, in his second movie role, leaving one sorry he did not tough it out in movies rather than waste years in TV.
However, the movie belongs to Hurt, Turner and the Florida night. We think of DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944), and realize BODY HEAT is one of the few successful efforts to re-invent film noir in color.
No matter how many times I see the ending of BODY HEAT, it is always an (inevitable) surprise -- and entirely satisfactory. See for yourself.
Causes Alex Fraser Supports