Sunday 25 August 2013

Body Double [1984]

If anyone ever had any doubts or misgivings about Brian De Palma’s love for Hitchcock’s oeuvre, Body Double is enough to put it to rest. This was a direct homage to not one but two Hitchcock classics, viz. Rear Window and Vertigo, albeit liberally adulterated with his own personal dose of sleaze, plot convolutions and world-view. The result was a grotesque, provocative, and interesting in parts, but otherwise inconsistent film that attempted tackling too many things to its own detriment; and not to forget, it created quite a scandal among the moralists and conservatives upon its release. Jake (Craig Wasson) is a struggling actor in schlock films. When his affliction with claustrophobia costs him his job, and simultaneously the shock of finding his girlfriend in bed with another guy leaves him homeless, a seemingly amiable stranger (Gregg Henry) offers him a luxurious place to stay, with the added bonus of being able to peep on a beautiful neighbor (Deborah Shelton) while she undresses, using a telescope. He becomes obsessed with her and eventually ends up witnessing her murder. However, when he meets a cute porn star (Melanie Griffith) who bears a striking resemblance to the slain lady, he realizes that he might just have been set up. The labyrinthine storyline veered on the verge of absurd on account of a number of rather implausible plot developments and heavy reliance on coincidences; but narratively it was engaging and the visual style interesting. Griffith was particularly memorable on account of the vulnerability she brought into her character – the scene where she spells out what she does and doesn’t do, was easily the film’s best moment.

Director: Brian De Palma
Genre: Thriller/Psychological Thriller/Post-Noir/Mystery
Language: English
Country: US


Sam Juliano said...

I am no fan of this film, though I do like other by the director. Your own mixed assessment is dead-on for sure. Either way, great work here!

Shubhajit said...

Thanks Sam. Though some people do go ga-ga over this film, I too don't think it deserves any over-the-top reaction. Yes, my reaction to it was mixed at best.