[Film Review] Body Double (1984)

Body Double poster.jpg

Title: Body Double
Year: 1984
Country: USA
Language: English
Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Director: Brian De Palma
Writers:
Brian De Palma
Robert J. Avrech
Music: Pino Donaggio
Cinematography: Stephen H. Burum
Cast:
Craig Wasson
Gregg Henry
Melanie Griffith
Deborah Shelton
Guy Boyd
Dennis Franz
David Haskell
Barbara Crampton
Lane Davies
Larry Flash Jenkins
Al Israel
Rebecca Stanley
Rating: 6.2/10

Body Double 1984.jpg

While Brian De Palma’s BODY DOUBLE taps adeptly into its heteronormative erotic thrust, in post-mortem, its central plot fits right into a cracking-a-nut-with-a-sledgehammer case that if the nefarious perpetrator simply needs an eye-witness for his purported burglary-turned-murder skulduggery, he really wouldn’t have concocted such an involute set-up to pull the wool over the eyes of our protagonist, Jack Scully (Wasson), a struggling actor in Hollywood afflicted by claustrophobia.

So what De Palma blatantly exploits down pat is the libidinous bent and voyeuristic tantalization mostly derived from the straight male demography, plundering Hitchcock’s REAR WINDOW and VERTIGO no end, BODY DOUBLE’s misbegotten plot is at first a thoroughgoing manifestation of female objectification through man’s wish-fullfilment, as if in real world, a luscious woman really enjoys putting on such a show for no one’s gratification but herself, also the camp choice from a telephone cord to an electric drill in terms of the murder weapon in the archly designed gore climax does writ large a wicked sign of its times and De Palma’s thinly-veiled mean-spiritedness.

Jack Scully is hare-brained enough to not suspect something bizarre is afoot right from the start, but the same can be referred to the culprit, so inimitable is the seductive routine that he must hire the porn star who invents it to do the same performance, and thanks to the slipshod prosthetics wearing by the ghastly-looking “Indian”, any sharp-eyed spectator can more or less guess who is underneath that halfway through the journey, ergo, thrill is drained by half. Having said that, Melanie Griffith does hold court in her breakthrough performance as the titular double, who only makes her appearance in the second half but buoyantly weds her immaculate allure with an air of nonchalance in her trademark cooing articulation, the paradigm of a woman in the eyes of her opposite sex beholder.

Ultimately, the takeaway of the film is exclusively ocular apart from Griffith’s grand entrance, the strikingly futuristic dwelling Chemosphere and a vampy music video of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s RELAX are here to stay, but as for De Palma’s facility, that Dutch-angle tunnel-vision might be any viewer’s best shot.

referential films: De Palma’s SISTERS (1973, 6.8/10), CARRIE (1976, 8.1/10), OBSESSION (1976, 7.2/10); Alfred Hitchcock’s VERTIGO (1958, 8.4/10), REAR WINDOW (1954, 8.4/10).

Oscar 1984 - Body Double.jpg

 

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