Body Double (1984)

Watching “Body Double,” I finally understood why so many cinephiles see Brian de Palma as a sleazy, exploitative Hitchcock copycat. Me, I’ve been a big fan of his for a long time, and while I’ll confess I often get tired of the never-ending Hitchcock references, I’ve always found his work so distinct and striking, so technically precise and emotionally intense that it’s unmistakably inspired, but here… wow. This is pure trash from beginning to end, and the only parts that work are some of those aforementioned, predictable Hitchcockian references. The problem begins with the casting of Craig Wasson in the lead: The dude is just not leading man material. He’s fine in a supporting cast but as a protagonist, he’s a bore. Once the movie is over, his casting and performance make more sense, but it’s a bitch to sit through an entire movie to find out why the lead is well-cast, you know? Then there’s the aggressive, boring sexuality, which is so persistent that it gets repetitive and you can’t help but groan whenever someone’s top drops (and if you’re not into very thin white women, then you’re out of luck) – you almost can’t help but wonder what kind of set this must have been for the female performers… and that’s not really something you want to be wondering about when you’re watching something meant to be sexy. Then, there’s the slow-as-molasses pace, which mistakes plodding, languishing shots for mounting suspense when all they manage to do is elicit frustrated groans and intermittent mind-wandering. But ultimately, it’s the ending that just kills the whole thing: It’s the worst kind of deus ex machina because it undermines every single thing you’ve seen before and wraps up things with a pat, dismissive wave of the hand, like you’re an idiot for expecting a resolution and a conclusion. This is… not good.

Rating: ★★ (out of 5)

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