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Sliver Review

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Recently divorced Carly Norris (Stone) moves into her new apartment in upstate New York. As Carly begins a steamy relationship with computer obsessed Zeke (Baldwin), she discovers that the building has seen a number of mysterious and gruesome deaths. What's more, she thinks she might be next.

★★★★★

Following its post-production furore — last minute reshoots, censorship wrangles over Baldwin's todger — Sliver emerges as a film sadly lacking in both sauce and thrills. Not a bad film exactly, just a clinical, inaccessible one, directed with impersonal efficiency by Phillip Noyce (The Bone Collector, Dead Calm).

The main problem lies with Joe Eszterhas' script, which reworks themes from his earlier efforts — Basic Instinct, Jagged Edge, et al. — as well as a good portion of Michael Powell's classic Peeping Tom, into an incoherent tale about voyeurism and murder that trades on our expectations but does little to fulfil them, rounded off by an ending which, altered following its disastrous US preview screenings, undermines all that's gone before.

Carly Norris, a newly divorced literary editor who takes an apartment in a Manhattan high-rise — the "sliver" building of the title — the scene of a number of recent, mysterious deaths. Carly then finds herself flattered by the attentions of fellow residents: computer games whiz Zeke and embittered novelist Jack (Berenger).

Drawn into a relationship with Zeke who, it transpires, is not only a hi-tech voyeur with hidden cameras set up in every apartment to record the activities within but also the building's owner, Norris is alarmed to discover that she bears an uncanny resemblance to the blonde who previously occupied her apartment and took a tumble over the balcony.

Eszterhas, working from Ira Levin's bestseller, again shows his "gift" for dialogue — "it's worse than anal intercourse" — trotting out another round of sexual cliches and murky intrigue, never once drawing back the psychological curtain to probe the protagonists' psyches and wasting the endless possibilities offered up by Zeke's prying pursuit. Stone, however, with much to prove after Basic Instinct, is an engagingly edgy heroine, better clothed than naked, but Baldwin's anonymous Zeke fails to convince as either a psycho, prince or pervert. Not awful, just dull.

If you're after Sharon Stone in the buff, rent Basic Instinct. It's not a terrible way to spend an hour and a half but it just doesn't fulfill its potential. Stone and Baldwin try to get raunchy but find themselves in desperate need of a fluffer.

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