Basic Instinct is a 1992 neo-noir erotic thriller film directed by Paul Verhoeven and written by Joe Eszterhas, and starring Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone. The film follows a police detective, Nick Curran (Douglas), who is investigating the brutal murder of a wealthy rock star. During the investigation Curran becomes involved in a torrid and intense relationship with the prime suspect, Catherine Tramell (Stone), an enigmatic writer.
Even before its release, Basic Instinct generated heated controversy due to its overt sexuality and graphic depiction of violence. It was strongly opposed by gay rights activists, who criticized the film's depiction of homosexual relationships and the portrayal of a bisexual woman as a murderous narcissistic psychopath. In a 2006 interview, Stone alleged that the infamous leg-crossing scene in which her vulva was exposed was filmed without her knowledge.
Despite initial critical negativity and public protest, Basic Instinct became one of the most financially successful films of the 1990s, grossing $352 million worldwide. Several versions of the film have been released on videocassette, DVD, and Blu-ray including a director's cut with extended footage previously unseen in North American cinemas. The film has contemporarily been recognized for its groundbreaking depictions of sexuality in mainstream Hollywood cinema, and has been referred to by scholars as "a neo-noir masterpiece that plays with, and transgresses, the narrative rules of film noir." A 2006 sequel, Basic Instinct 2 starring Stone was made without Verhoeven's involvement, but received negative reviews from critics and was unsuccessful at the box office.