‘Hey, isn’t Pearl Jam some sort of oriental sex thing?‘
Sharon Stone has always had an undeserved bad rep. Maybe it’s her penchant for appearing nude, or maybe it’s the fact that she has made so many erotic thrillers – a genre that is often mocked by film critics. Either way, as anyone who has seen Casino can attest to, Stone is a great actress on her day. And this is lucky because, without her, this movie would be a piece of shit…
Carly Norris (Stone) moves into an exclusive New York City apartment block, only to find that her neighbours have something to hide. Local writer Jack Landsford (Tom Berenger) hounds her. Younger man Zeke (William Baldwin) lusts after her. And some mystery man buys her a telescope. It would be remiss of me to give away much more than that as Sliver is best enjoyed with as little prior knowledge as possible.
Ira Levin, who wrote the novel that this film was based on, also created Rosemary’s Baby and The Stepford Wives, two novels that described yuppie nightmares before the concept of the yuppie even existed. Sliver explores many of the same themes established in those novels. Terror in the suburbs. Sexual politics. Corruption. And while it is nowhere near as successful as either of the aforementioned, at its best, Phillip Noyce’s film is thrilling and compelling. Billy Baldwin is too sleazy to ever really convince as a doting boyfriend, but Stone is excellent throughout, and Berenger has a lot of fun as a lecherous old sinner. The problem is that the character motivations here are insane. This is a film that demands that you think about it as little as possible. It also has a pretty terrible non-ending that really drags the rest of the film down.
Sliver is one of the more forgotten ’90s thrillers now, but it is worth seeking out for Stone’s performance and also just for the whole feel of the thing. For anyone that likes that ’90s thriller aesthetic, this is a prime example of the form. In Judy Marks (Colleen Camp), it also features the most preposterous best friend character ever committed to film. Absolutely appalling dialogue every time she opens her mouth. Lovely stuff.