I wish I could recall the circumstances surrounding the moment when I suddenly got possessed to see this, but those memories are lost to time. I knew I should watch it again before settling down to watch the remake—but fuck it, I wanted to see this one, and see it NOW.
This is directed by Jeremiah S. Interestingly, however, the screenplay is by Don Roos, who went on to become the writer-director of the hilarious and delightful The Opposite of Sex, among lesser successes. So within four minutes Isabelle Adjani as Mia is naked and having convulsions in the bathroom, observed by a peeping boy across the way.
Chazz Palminteri as her husband Guy wakes up and finds her there. The boy, who we understand has an adolescent attraction to Mia, runs over to save her, but is stopped by Sharon Stone as Nicole, all ruby lipstick, cigarettes and animal patterns. They open the door and see Mia laying there naked, and the kid stands staring at her, even after Nicole tells him to go get another teacher.
So far I was totally into the hothouse atmosphere of violence and barely-repressed lust. The promotional video for the school says that it enforces strict discipline. The food they are forcing the kids to eat is treated as something it is cruel and unusual to make even a dog eat, and Nicole sends hers away. Guy forces Mia to eat some, and she struggles to put even a dollop in her mouth.
Thing is, to me it looked utterly delicious—a thick chicken stew, like pot pie filling, over white toast. Swallow it for once in your life. I know, I need help. So we see Guy go after Mia, and we see that Mia actually gets quite aroused by his evil nature.
She says that after Guy was with Mia he vas violent in his doings with Nicole. But I was too busy noticing that Stone lights a cigarette at 8: Talk about a chain smoker. He then blames her cigarette and says second-hand smoke kills. Abrams—as a video team there to make a promotional short about the school. They are amusingly trite and seen-it-all in a way that has been parodied a million times, but still remains amusing. One interesting thing about the script is that the characters never announce their plan to kill Guy, they just do it.
So Guy is being all mean and asking for his drink, and he downs two before getting pissed at Mia and abusing her. I should also mention that in this scene and the next, Nicole is wearing skin tight shiny red hot pants and a tight white leopard-print shirt. Sharon goes upstairs and they drag the body into the bathtub. Their plan is to make it look like he was drunk and slipped, and his body will be found when they drain the pool a few days later. They dump the body into the pool. She keeps staring out the window at the pool during her classes and fainting and this and that until you just want to bludgeon her.
The pool is drained, and no body, causing Mia to freak. I should mention that this is the second movie, after Zardoz , that features a woman standing next to a projected diagram of an erect penis. So then Kathy Bates shows up as investigator Shirley Vogel. She has also lost a breast to cancer.
So she shows up at the school and questions the two women, noting that Nicole does all the talking for Mia. Nicole has a great reaction as she realizes that she has been out-bitched! I hate all that in-your-face survivor crap. Mia vacillates between being a nervous wreck and seeming coolly calculating, and they start to get indications that either Guy is still alive or someone knows what they did.
More clues, more intimidation, more investigation, boring, boring, until we come to the climax. Mia goes upstairs and guy is in the tub. He immediately rises and gets out, his eyes all white and dead-looking. So, wrap your motherfucking mind around THIS: But they changed the ending. So they thought it would be okay to make a movie in which an abusive husband is killed by his wife, and the audience is given explicit acknowledgement that this situation is FINE.
Because men are such pigs, you know. Because Nicole, you see, has grown a heart over the course of this film, and cannot stand to see poor Mia, whom she loves so very much, die.
Movies CAN inspire wonder. Because killing your abusive husband is like a right-on thing. The final shot is of Shirley triumphantly smoking a cigarette, as she gazes at the pool, as though she too had scored a victory. I mentioned this at the ending of my review of Enough , another movie of about the same time as this one, which floated the idea at the end that it is not only fine, but morally laudatory to kill an abusive husband.
I was surprised to find another movie like it. It does kind of ruin the aftertaste of the movie, because for the first 40 minutes I found it delicious, then it starts to drag on a bit, but still amusing, but the last ten minutes really make you feel jerked-around. I wish I knew whether they shot the ending and then were forced to add a tacked-on twist, or whether they wrote the change in at the beginning.
Word on the IMDb is that Sharon Stone thought they were making a black comedy [and there are certainly many indications to support that], but the director wanted more of a thriller.
But Sharon was the big cheese. If you are gay and like bitchy, chain smoking women in animal patterNs, though, you really should consider getting some friends together and checking this out. Should you watch it: If you find trashy bitchiness amusing or will watch anything with suspense. It could be worse.