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INDECENT PROPOSAL

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Robert Redford, Demi Moore, Woody Harrelson, Oliver Platt, Seymour Cassel
Director: Adrian Lyne
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround, French Stereo
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Paramount
Features: Director’s Commentary
Length: 116 Minutes
Release Date: April 16, 2002

“Some things aren’t for sale.”
“Such as?”
“Well, you can’t buy people.”
“That’s naïve, Diana. I buy people everyday.”
“Well in business, maybe, but not when real emotions are involved.”
“So what are you saying, you can’t buy love? That’s a bit of a cliché, don’t you think?”
“It’s absolutely true.”

Film **1/2

Director Adrian Lyne made a name for himself with a number of adult-themed movies which touched issues most movies wouldn’t even think of going near. He explored non-subtle erotic taboos in 9 ½ Weeks, and tapped into the fears of all unfaithful individuals with his hugely popular thriller Fatal Attraction. His next film was one with something of an intriguing scenario, even though it would sound completely ludicrous to any couple who felt truly in love. Whether you consider it a purely believable plotline or not, the idea of a wealthy man offering a financially struggling couple an easy million dollars in exchange for one night with the woman sold itself to audiences, as Indecent Proposal went on to become one of the most successful and talked about movies of 1993. The film itself has a strong opening half, and good enough middle, but the movie’s final hour is as slow as can be, as the movie doesn’t seem to know how to conclude itself.

The film opens with lovers Diana and David, played very convincingly by Demi Moore and Woody Harrelson. They meet in college, and once graduated they get married. Living out of an apartment, David makes his living as an architect, while Diana sells real estate. Soon enough, a recession puts the two in a bad financial hole, as they are both out of their jobs, as well as $50,000 in debt. Desperate and having no other option, David decides on a spontaneous quick trip to Vegas.

Their first night in Sin City is a shocking one, as David garners a winning streak, bringing in even more than enough money to get him and Diana out of hock. The next night isn’t so successful, as David grows more desperate to win even more money, and ends up losing everything at the roulette table. While in this slum of an aftermath, only one thing is the answer to their financial prayers, billionaire John Gage (Robert Redford). After asking to borrow Diana from her husband simply as a luck charm at the poker table, Gage provides the two with a room of their own. The following night after a private dinner, Gage proposes the indecent proposal to the two, one night of passion with Diana for an easy, cool million. After much debating about whether to consider Gage’s proposal, and going through the process of signing a specific contract put together by their lawyer (Oliver Platt), the struggling couple agrees to the deal.

The slight weakness of Indecent Proposal starts to occur following the one night stand with Gage. What follows are endless scenes of the central characters fighting at one another for placing each other in the situation they currently find themselves in. These scenes, including a tense moment of anger between David and Diana, are indeed well performed, but the film takes what feels like eternity to come to any kind of conclusion. The story seems to be battling itself as to whether it wants to end in a nice way or in a depressing way before finally choosing one of the two at the last minute.

Indecent Proposal starts out very well, but is flawed solely in its last half, which feels more like a drawn out, inconclusive soap opera. The performances are the one thing keeping it from being an extremely flawed movie.

Video ***1/2

Paramount once again displays their genius at making a release from the early 90s look good. The video presentation for Indecent Proposal is very clear and very sharp. The scenes in and around Vegas are the most engaging, with colors and camera angles coming through especially impressive. There is a couple of instances of image softness, but very brief. An all-around glorious looking disc.

Audio ***

For a movie that is mostly dialogue-oriented, Indecent Proposal has been given a most decent audio vibe. The 5.1 audio track does a most impressive job of picking up distinctive sounds here and there, and also enhancing the luscious score by composer John Barry. There is hardly a single flaw in the audio, but then again, this is simply a dialogue-oriented pic.

Features **

Included is a commentary track by director Adrian Lyne.

Summary:

Indecent Proposal is hardly a bad film. It starts out strongly, but doesn’t know how it wants to conclude, and takes its time in deciding. I do give the film credit, though, in the movie’s setup and performances.