Body Language (1992, directed by Arthur Allen Seidelman)

Betsy (Heather Locklear) is a workaholic executive who has finally gotten the prize promotion at the Orpheus Capital Corporation.  Along with her new office, Betsy also gets a new assistant but when that assistant mysteriously disappears, she is replaced by Norma (Linda Purl).  Norma is just as ambitious as Betsy but she just can’t seem to make her way up the corporate ladder, no matter how hard she tries.  Norma soon grows indispensable to Betsy, comforting her when she breaks up with her boyfriend (James Acheson) and also supporting her when Betsy refuses to sleep with her sexist new boss (Edward Albert).  Before you can say “Single White Female,” Norma is dressing like Betsy, talking like Betsy, dating Betsy’s ex, and trying to take over Betsy’s life.  When Betsy eventually catches on, she discovers just how far Norma will go to be her.

It is easy to compare this film to Single White Female, though Body Language actually aired on the USA Network two months before Single White Female was released.  The main difference between the two films is that Single White Female was an R-rated theatrical release whereas Body Language is unmistakably a television production.  That means no bad language, no nudity, no graphic violence, only a little sex, and not a hint of psychological nuance beyond Norma being the type of girl who snuffs out candles with her fingers.  Single White Female‘s main strength was the effort that Jennifer Jason Leigh went to make her unstable stalker into a believable character who had more motivation than just being crazy.  The script for Body Language is less concerned with why Norma does what she does.  Betsy is glamorous and successful.  Norma is neither of those things and, in this film’s view of things, that is more than enough motivation for her to try to take over Betsy’s life.

Still, the underrated Linda Purl does the best that she can with the role of Norma and she has a few good moments where Norma lets the mask slip and reveals how unstable she actually is.  Heather Locklear matches her as the workaholic who learns that climbing the corporate ladder can be murder and she shows why she was so often cast in films like in-between appearing on shows like T.J. Hooker, Dynasty, and Melrose Place.  If you grew up in the 90s, it’s hard to watch any old Heather Locklear tv movie without feeling nostalgic.

One response to “Body Language (1992, directed by Arthur Allen Seidelman)

  1. Pingback: Lisa Marie’s Week In Review: 7/4/22 — 7/10/22 | Through the Shattered Lens

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