Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Past Perfect: Body Heat (1981)

Home movie gems from the past few decades that need some dusting but never get old.


Back in 1981, a certain Lawrence Kasdan was getting some much-deserved attention after writing the screenplay for The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Not a bad way to start your career. For his next move, he wrote and directed this sexy thriller. It’s set during a Florida heat wave, with ceiling fans, beads of perspiration and sweat patches featuring in nearly every scene, and adding wonderfully to the oppressive atmosphere. The film’s protagonist, a debonair lawyer (William Hurt) who isn’t exactly a star at his job, starts an affair with a wealthy woman (Kathleen Turner, in a sizzling breakout performance) and they plot a crime together which doesn’t exactly go according to plan. The film doesn’t shy away from nudity and racy content where appropriate, but it is also heavy on slick dialogue, great acting and a smart plot. And all dipped in a wonderfully sultry jazz soundtrack by the legendary John Barry.

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