A millionaire businessman is discovered dead in his bedroom with a tape playing on his TV of him having sex with his girlfriend Rebecca Carlson (Madonna). The police are called in to investigate, and the District Attorney Robert Garrett (Joe Mantegna) thinks it could be case of murder when it is revealed that not only did the dead man have a heart condition, but there were traces of cocaine in his system - a drug that appeared to have been concealed in a bottle of nasal spray near the body. Was the millionaire put in a position where he was killed by a deliberately induced heart attack? Could Rebecca's body be the murder weapon?
With a set up that sounds, not inappropriately, like the start of a dirty joke, Body of Evidence was producer Dino De Laurentiis' manful (and womanful) attempt a recreating the success of Basic Instinct, complete with Middle European director. Of course, this had already been tried by other producers - usually of the direct to video variety - but Dino decided to fill his movie with stars for that extra special cachet and disguise the fact that this is really little better than a Shannon Tweed effort despite its cast. And at the forefront of that cast is Madonna in her Sex book, uninhibited siren phase, yet again demonstrating that if she's not singing, audiences didn't want to see her.
Scripted by Brad Mirman, although seeming more like he warmed over a few clichés, the film is actually a courtroom drama with a few sex scenes thrown in to make it look as if Madonna has the most voracious appetite for men the world had yet seen. And who is next on Rebecca's list? None other than her lawyer, Frank Dulaney (Willem Dafoe), a happily married (to Julianne Moore) family man who makes cases where the clients have guilt written all over their faces his speciality. But first Rebecca must tease him, and play hard to get whilst still leading him on and making sure he is fully committed to winning her case.
The courtroom scenes are, to be honest, massively tedious when they're not unintentionally funny, with the defence, prosecution and witnesses liberally bandying sexual terms about in supposedly adult, nothing-amusing-about-this-at-all fashion. These cross examinations are interrupted about seven billion times by Mantegna and Dafoe shouting "Objection!", which suggests Mirman did his research by watching epsiodes of Perry Mason, and the testy judge (Lillian Lehman) warning the constantly rhubarbing public looking on aghast to be quiet. Those witnesses include a doctor (Jurgen Prochnow) and a surprise admission, an ashen-faced Frank Langella as a previous millionaire businessman with a bad heart boyfriend of Rebecca's.
Rebecca is blatantly a femme fatale who is out to get the money left in the will, but you wonder why she bothers seducing Frank when he was already keen as mustard to see her found not guilty. Yet if she didn't seduce him we wouldn't get the sexual content, which has a light sadomasochistic tone, with Rebecca famously dripping hot candle wax on Frank's chest before having sex with him (filmed through gauzy curtains, because naturally without them it would look completely tasteless). The "woman's body as deadly weapon" theme is taken to ridiculous extremes, and the portrait of Madonna as a lady to be punished for her desires surely goes against the film's supposed open-mindedness about its carnal aspect. Chalk it up as another disaster from Dino de Horrendous, just not an enjoyable one. Music by Graeme Revell.
German director who deals in sometimes controversial subject matter. His first film was 1981's intense drug drama Christiane F , which brought him international notoriety; his next feature was the equally controversial Last Exit to Brooklyn. The erotic thriller Body of Evidence (with Madonna) was one of 1993's most derided films and most of Edel's other work has been in TV, including episodes of Twin Peaks, Oz, Tales from the Crypt and Homicide. Also directed the family hit The Little Vampire, true crime story The Baader Meinhof Complex, rap turkey Time You Change and Nicolas Cage horror Pay the Ghost.