Body Shots

USA 1999

Reviewed by Kevin Maher


Our synopses give away the plot in full, including surprise twists.

Los Angeles, the present, late Friday night. Rick and Jane, both in their twenties, lie on a bed talking. Jane's friend Sara enters and claims she has just been raped by Rick's friend Mike. Flashbacks reveal earlier events. That same night, Rick, Mike and their friends Trent and Shawn prepare for a night out. They discuss their sexual techniques and moral attitudes. Meanwhile, Jane and Sara and their friends Emma and Whitney do the same. After getting drunk in separate bars, the girls and boys meet up in a nightclub. Rick and Jane kiss. Shawn, shy and withdrawn, is attracted to Sara, but Mike, loud and abrasive, tries to seduce her. Sara is especially drunk.

Outside the club, Mike beats up a security guard, then leaves in a taxi with Sara. A dejected Shawn has sex with Emma; Trent has sex with Whitney. Later on, Sara arrives at Jane's apartment in tears. She describes how Mike came back to her place and raped her. Mike gives a very different account of the same events to Rick, who is also his lawyer: he says they had consensual sex. Jane advises Sara not to go to court because she was so drunk. She proceeds with the case, but the result is a hung jury. Rick and Jane meet up afterwards. They go back to Jane's apartment and lie on the bed.


Body Shots tries so hard. It wants to be an attractive post-teen romantic-comedy ensemble, a quirky satire of vapid millennial dating habits and a shocking exposé of sexual hypocrisy all at once, but ends up being merely banal and confused. The handiwork of director Michael Cristofer (whose screenwriting credits include Less than Zero and The Bonfire of the Vanities), working from a script by David McKenna (American History X), Body Shots initially invites comparisons with such archetypal Brat Pack movies as "About Last Night..." and St. Elmo's Fire with its attractive, upwardly-mobile cast (four boys, four girls) fretting over the pitfalls of modern relationships. Lifting a narrative conceit from He Said, She Said (and before that Rashomon, 1950, among other films) the characters relate conflicting his and her versions of past events, such as Trent and Sara's contradictory takes on his liaison with an older woman and, more centrally, Sara and Mike's different accounts of their sexual encounter: she calls it rape, he describes it as a one-night stand.

With the introduction of this theme, the film is left nervously scrambling to find the right tone, unable to fall back on the light gender-based comedy of its early part. Ultimately it ends up glossing over the rape itself to focus moral opprobrium on the group's alcoholic tendencies - both Sara and Mike are censured by the gang for "blacking out". In a final inexplicable coda, the characters - all shallow narcissists up until this point - suddenly become wise philosophers on the nature of love, announcing sagely that, "It's love that makes you vulnerable." McKenna's script is peppered with many of these fortune-cookie aphorisms, often delivered with ill-disguised incredulity by the cast.

Cristofer is certainly enthusiastic with his camera, and together with cinematographer Rodrigo García (Mi vida loca), he uses a visual arsenal of tricks to convey the feel of a hyper-kinetic night of debauchery, firing off extreme close-ups, smudge motion and frenzied handheld club shots. But most of all, Cristofer loves filming his designer-clad, beautiful cast. This is a film enthralled to youth, beauty, bodies, breasts and glistening limbs - which makes its depiction of rape hugely problematic.

Despite the early attempts to destabilise the narrational point of view - making us wonder if we're seeing a man's or woman's version of particular events - it quickly becomes clear that the spectatorial point of view is resolutely male. Sara and Mike's "contradictory" versions of the rape story are illustrated by two voyeuristic soft-porn segments, and in both actress Tara Reid is stripped, objectified and fetishised for the camera's gaze. This context makes the movie's final plea for a new Puritanism, free from alcohol and casual sex, particularly nauseating.


Michael Cristofer
David McKenna
Director of Photography
Rodrigo Garcîa
Eric Sears
Production Designer
David J. Bomba
Music/Score Producer
Mark Isham
©New Line Productions Inc
Production Company
New Line Cinema presents
a Colomby/Keaton production
Executive Producers
Michael Keaton
Guy Riedel
Michael De Luca
Lynn Harris
Jennifer Keohane
Harry Colomby
Executive in Charge of Production
Carla Fry
Production Executive
Michael Caldwell
Production Controller
Paul Prokop
Production Co-ordinator
Wendy Riseborough
Supervising Production Co-ordinator
Emily Glatter
Unit Production Manager
Udi Nedivi
Location Manager
Greg Lazzaro
Location Office Co-ordinator
Jennifer McGaffigan
Executive in Charge of:
Jody Levin
Jay Vinitsky
Assistant Directors
Mary Ellen Woods
Kristen Ploucha
Hans Berggren
Script Supervisor
Susan Bierbaum
June Lowry Johnson
Libby Goldstein
Barbara Harris
Camera Operators
Scott Browner
David Garden
Steadicam Operators
Rusty Geller
Chris George
Special Effects Co-ordinator
Dan Sudick
Special Effects
Jan Aaris
Hal Bigger
Art Director
John R. Jensen
Set Designer
Daniel Bradford
Set Decorator
Kathy Lucas
Storyboard Artist
Dan Sweetman
Costume Designer
Carolyn Leigh Greco
Costume Supervisor
Randall Thropp
Key Make-up Artist
Nena Smarz
Make-up Artists
Lisa Layman
Amy Schmiederer
Key Hairstylist
David Fields
Tim Lasquade
Title Design
Lumeni Productions
Chelsea Heneise
Custom Film Effects
Mark Dornfeld
Solo Trumpet
Mark Isham
Solo Cello
David Low
Strings Conductor/
Ken Kugler
Music Co-ordinator
Annie Searles
Music Executive/Supervision
Paul Broucek
Music Editor
Marvin Morris
Stephen Krause
"Biker Bar" by/performed by Mike Figgis; "Shine" by Jon B, and David Elias, performed by Jon B; "Mustang Sally" by Bonny Rice, performed by Buddy Guy; "Modern Day Jazz" by/performed by Courtney Pine;
"UFO" by/performed by Mark Isham; "Signifyin" by Lou Donaldson; "Ask Me No Questions" by Wendell Holmes, performed by The Holmes Brothers;
"Altamont Super-Highway Revisited" by Noko, performed by Apollo Four Forty;
"Bodyrock" by Moby, Bobby Robinson, Gabriel Marion Jackson, performed by Moby contains a sample of "Love Rap" performed by Spoony G and The Treacherous 3, additional vocals by Nikki D; "Bad Girl" by DJ Rap, Julie Anne Tulley, Dom Thrupp, Aidan Love, performed by DJ Rap; "Bang On!" by Alex Gifford, performed by Propellerheads; "F**ck with Your Head" by DJ Rap, Bill Baylis, Dom Thrupp, Aidan Love, performed by DJ Rap; "My Favourite Game" by Peter Svensson, Nina Persson, performed by The Cardigans; "Big Calm" by Paul Godfrey, Ross Godfrey, Skye Edwards, Jason Furlow, performed by Morcheeba; "Beautiful" by/performed by Me'Shell N'degéocello; "Cars Go By" by Chris Seefried, Adam Hamilton, Gary De Rosa, Craig Ruda, performed by Chris Seefried
Mary Ann Kellogg
Sound Mixer
Jose Garcia
Re-recording Mixers
Melissa S. Hofmann
Brad Sherman
Additional Mix Supervisor
Mark Stoeckinger
Digital Mix Technician
Drew Webster
Supervising Sound Editor
Dave McMoyler
Dialogue Editors
Frederick H. Stahly
Kimaree Long
Effects Editors
Hector C. Gika
Scott Wolf
Brian Basham
Ron Bedrosian
Craig A. Dellinger
James Moriana
Jeffrey B. Wilhoit
Greg Zimmerman
Nerses Gezalyan
Mark Hunshik Choi
Stunt Co-ordinator
Rob King
Sean Patrick Flanery
Rick Hamilton
Jerry O'Connell
Michael Penorisi
Amanda Peet
Jane Bannister
Tara Reid
Sara Olswang
Ron Livingston
Trent Barber
Emily Procter
Whitney Bryant
Brad Rowe
Shawn Denigan
Sybil Temchen
Emma Cooper
Joe Basile
Scott Burkholder
Liz Coke
girl 2
Allison Dunbar
girl 3
Edmond Genest
Sara's dad
Adam Gordon
burger joint cop
Mark Hicks
Larry Joshua
Detective Richards
Elizabeth Liebel
Mrs Drofsky
Marc Lynn
disco bartender
Lou Paget
oral sex instructor
Adina Porter
Detective Thompson
Benny Quan
burger joint manager
Wendy Schenker
Nick Spano
Jeff the doorman
Entertainment Film Distributors Ltd
9,509 feet
105 minutes 39 seconds
SDDS/Dolby digital/Digital DTS sound
Colour/Prints by
Anamorphic [Panavision]
Last Updated: 20 Dec 2011