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Body Of Evidence  

Body of Evidence was a rather notorious event in the history of 90`s-cinema, as well as in Madonna`s career. She starred as an accused sex killer, but her most notable moments were when she starred in frequently kinky sex scenes, all of which were enough to make the critics and the audience jeer at her foolishness and stay away in droves. The film was only one in a series of controversial moves by the star, which included her Sex, a book of erotic photos, and her Erotica album. Her justification for all of these works was to make people open their eyes and minds to sexuality, and to realize that it is okay to express such forbidden desires. While I can`t speak for the book and the album, I can say that the irony involving Body of Evidence is that it`s ultimate message justifies the prejudices which Madonna claims to attack.

Madonna`s character is accused of killing her older, wealthy lover with an unusual weapon - her unbridled sexuality. The man suffered a heart attack due to the excitement (insert uncontrollable laughter here). It is up to lawyer William Defoe to defend her and her ideas about sexuality, which include sadomasochistic pleasures such as handcuffs and nipple clamps. He, however, gets a bit distracted, and decides to moonlight as her lover as well as her defender. During the trial, all sorts of apparently shocking bits occur, such as the claim by the old man`s secretary that Madonna is a drug fiend, the claim by the old man`s doctor that Madonna became interested in the old guy due to the money, and the claim that she has tried to kill other old wealthy men in exactly the same way.

As with most sex thrillers, this movie has a patently offensive storyline. The only reason this story can exist is because of the prejudices the creators and perhaps the audience has against sexually aggressive women. The prosecuting attorney`s opening remarks emphasize the body as a weapon, and the overall belief that Madonna`s character is not normal. If the genders were reversed, I know that there would be no talk of the body as weapon. During the affair, we are supposed to be both fearful and excited at Madonna`s sex games, because of the possibility that this is murderous behavior. While Madonna makes many bombastic (yet potentially insightful) speeches on how people are hypocritical about sex, and how people just don`t want to understand the many different ways in which people can make love to each other, these speeches are merely red herrings. The final blow is the ending, which is so swift, so cynical, that it borders on the offensive. The message: if a girl is not a prim and proper housewife, she must be a crazy killer!!!

Crazy killer or not, Madonna is not my idea of a fun time. Not because she dabbles in bondage and candle wax (although it`s silly), but because she doesn`t look joyous doing the dabbling. She appears aloof, distanced, evasive, which may be the point: a woman who does this stuff clearly has an ulterior motive. And she`s definitely little interested in the sex. I`m thinking of the sex scene involving Julianne Moore, before she was famous, and Defoe, and I can tell you that Julianne displays more true enjoyment and happiness in thirty seconds of allegedly "boring" sex, than Madonna does in six or seven miniutes of "experimental" and "wild" sex.

The acting is terrible. Madonna doesn`t act, she preaches. Her speeches are laughable, not chilling or convincing, especially when she talks about animals having sex, and when she tells Defoe "I fuck. That`s what I do." She`s a real comedian. Joe Mantegna, as the prosecutor, is also terrible. He is supposed to sound menacing, a slick and arrogant bastard. Instead, he tries way too hard, and sounds like a bad joke. William Defoe is just a moron, especially since he actually has an affair with his boring client instead of staying home with Julianne. She and Anne Archer, as the secretary, are used merely as token women, whom we get to see naked at least once, and while beautiful women are certainly a good thing in the world, it`s unfair to use actual actors, with actual talent, only as sex objects, especially in such an anti-woman film. Overall, this film is a waste of talent, and should be seen only for those wanting to see a bad film, or for those wanting to know if the fear of women, an element which goes back to The Bible, still exists in some form.

David Macdonald

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