With an all-star cast including Sharon Stone and Kathy Bates in addition to an increased budget, it would seem that Jeremiah Chechik's 1996 remake of the French classic DIABOLIQUE had all of the right ingredients to make it a success. While it often comes close, the film just slightly misses the mark in the end. DIABOLIQUE finds a wife conspiring with her husband's mistress to kill the man that has wronged them both, but when his body disappears from its watery grave, the two must find a way to absolve themselves of the crime and avoid suspicion. Noticeable cuts and changes have been made to eliminate some of the slower dialog and exposition early on, which have clearly been made to hurry along the pace for an impatient 90's audience. After the expedient set-up, most of the interest and suspense are lost as Chechik puts on the brakes in the second half to make up for the rushed beginning. He finally caps it off with a dramatically over-the-top ending that is way too forceful for the otherwise smooth suspense thriller. Chazz Palminteri is perfectly suited to play the womanizing Dr. Baran with a commanding power and authority, but while Isabelle Adjani offers a strong lead as his anxious wife, Sharon Stone barely squeaks by with a coldly-read performance that only provides a few enjoyable moments. This updates version makes no attempt to mask the film's homosexual undertones, which are unnecessarily overstated in several key sequences. Outside of a few apparent lapses in logic and uneven pacing, DIABOLIQUE holds up as a modernized remake with enough tension and atmosphere to appeal to most thriller fans.
If you liked DIABOLIQUE, check out:
BODY DOUBLE, PSYCHO, WHAT LIES BENEATH.