Imagine if Diner or St. Elmo’s Fire had a reunion twenty years later, and you’ll be picturing something like this, when a group of friends meet up for a weekend to attend the funeral of one of their number who killed himself. Kevin Costner filmed scenes as the departed Alex before they were cut, but his presence isn’t missed amongst those that remained, including Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt, Glenn Close, Kevin Kline and Tom Berenger. The weekend reveals that none of them are as happy or settled as they may initially seem, and each character is inhabited totally and wholly; the cast even shared a house together before the shoot, and remained in character throughout it. The soundtrack is also exquisite, featuring the Rolling Stones, Procul Harum, the Beach Boys and Marvin Gaye.
In a balmy summer heatwave in the American Deep South, the not-terribly-good defense lawyer Ned Racine (William Hurt with a 70s pornstar moustache) makes a random encounter with wealthy, sultry Matty Walker (Kathleen Turner), who is unhappily married to Edmund (Richard Crenna), a good man who is always away on business. Ned and Matty begin an illicit and steamy affair, and both decide that they’d be better off financially and romantically if Edmund were no longer around, so Ned, with the help of Mickey Rourke’s criminal consultant, sets out to murder him.
What sets this apart from the rest of the noir genre it draws obvious inspiration from is the copious nudity and sex scenes between the two leads, which are excessive even by today’s standards, as well as several shots of Richard Crenna in his underwear that I could have done without.
I was surprised that the plot didn’t contain more twists and turns, as in the end it was all fairly straightforward. For instance, I assumed early on that Matty’s husband Edmund would be in cahoots with either Ned or Matty, but in fact Edmund has very little to do in the story. In fact, his character arc is completed so early on that I was intrigued as to where the plot would go next. Also, some elements are set up with no eventual payoff – Matty’s niece catching Ned doing something he shouldn’t be doesn’t end up with her identifying him to the police – which led me to think that either we were deliberately fed loose threads to keep us guessing, or it’s just sloppy writing, though seeing as writer/director Lawrence Kasdan also wrote Star Wars Episodes V and VI, as well as Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Big Chill, it’s probably the former.
I was surprised to see just how attractive Kathleen Turner used to be, as other than her vocals in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, I’ve only ever known her as the dog trainer in Marley & Me (I have never willingly watched the film, it’s a favourite of the girlfriend) and as Chandler Bing’s drag-queen father in Friends, so I was rather confused that someone with such nice legs and skin could go on to be, well, Kathleen Turner.
There have been better noirs made before this (Double Indemnity) and after (Coen brothers’ debut Blood Simple), and if it weren’t for the aforementioned raunchiness there’s little chance of it being remembered today. The film isn’t necessarily bad, but its not revolutionary either.
Choose life 6/10
Choose film 8/10
Previously, I only knew of The Bodyguard as the Kevin Costner-Whitney Houston film, one of my Dad’s guilty pleasures that he can almost quote word for word. I’d never had much desire to see it, as I’m not a huge fan of either of the stars, and thought that the plot seemed incredibly straightforward and obvious. Man-with-a-past (Costner) is forced by circumstances to guard woman-with-a-diva-complex (Houston). Initially, the pair hate one another, until he saves her life and she shows him who she is inside. Eventually, they fall in love, possibly after someone dies. I was not disappointed.
The film mostly annoyed me for how blatantly it is trying to set up an acting career for Houston. Her character, Rachel Marron, is a famous actress, trying to launch a music career by singing in a film, just as Houston is trying to launch an acting career by appearing in a film in which she performs most of the soundtrack. The main drawback to the launching of Houston’s film career though, is that in the Bodyguard she does no acting, whatsoever, as the ‘character’ she plays is herself, the diva with the overstuffed ego, blissfully unaware of anyone but herself.
Choose life 3/10