Fondling Lighters in the Shapes of London’s Phallic Landmarks

Dennis Lim writes about the new but familiarly-titled movie in the Village Voice.
“At one point in Basic Instinct 2, Sharon Stone’s castrating nympho-bitch is diagnosed as a “masked psychotic”—a sneaky acknowledgment, perhaps, that the real subject of this sadly anticlimactic sequel is not sexual warfare or the pleasure principle or the death drive but cosmetic surgery. It’s been 14 years since Stone’s Catherine Tramell sent the San Francisco police force into a horny tizzy.

She returns, at 48, with a performance that lends new meaning to “Stone-faced.” If we accept the actress’s repeated claims that her glossy, creaseless visage is all-natural, then her work here constitutes an eerie tour de force of muscle control—a weirdly minimalist form of mugging.

As she tries on one nominally come-hither look after another, the immobilized upper portion of her face has the unsettling effect of rendering her expressions doubly ambiguous, as if she’s wearing half a kabuki mask. Divested of her ice pick, Catherine is reduced to touristy kitsch, fondling lighters in the shapes of London’s phallic landmarks.