By Anna

Every action, word and motion is intentional in film noir. Though it tends to leave a trail of melodrama in its wake, that is what makes this accidental genre so elite.

As Ebert says, “Noir is the genre of night, guilt, violence and illicit passion.” And that couldn’t be any truer than in Lawrence Kasdan’s Body Heat.

Young and restless William Hurt and Kathleen Turner, along with Mickey Rourke (like I’ve never seen him before) and flamboyant Ted Danson, Body Heat is casted to perfection. “The film is about a woman who get a man to commit murder for her,” says Ebert. And as Matty (Turner) wears her body too well, she seduces Ned (Hurt) just as she seduces us.

We initially think Ned is the protagonist just as he thinks Matty is his prized lover, but all along Matty is in control—giving Ned looks that he cannot resist.

Lines are delivered like Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher in The Empire Strikes Back (which isn’t unusual since Kasdan wrote it), and the editing and style is breathtaking at times (particularly one transition from Ned to Matty as a car window is rolled up).

It is a dramatic and powerfully ‘80s film reflecting the genre of the ‘40s—such as the lust of the lead saxophone in the score, which is hilarious, but necessary.

This film is ideologically feminist. Yes, Matty uses her sexual prowess to seduce Ned, but she also outwits him when it counts. She is strong. He is weak.

Body heat is standard in pornography, when actors complain about how warm they are, and Body Heat falls just shy of porn at times and is just as loveless as porn. And also like porn it is the act of a woman that adds heat to the situation, but this time she will not be objectified; she will conquer all the men surrounding her.

By the final scenes we are uncertain if their love was real or if Matty’s master manipulation was the sole part of the plan. But it doesn’t really matter. The point is: “When it gets hot people try to kill each other.”

What better way to affirm that truth than through film noir?

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