INDECENT PROPOSAL: DVD
High-school sweethearts Diana (Demi Moore) and David Murphy (Woody Harrelson) are a happily married and attractive couple at the start of their careers. She's a real estate broker and he's an architect. They are building their dream home, but times are tough, the recession hits, and on a trip to Vegas, David has the dumb idea to gamble their savings. They lose. To the rescue comes wealthy gambler John Gage (Robert Redford), who makes David an indecent proposal: "… a million dollars for one night with your wife." After much debate, they accept, but the proposal comes with indecent consequences.
Review by Shannon J. Harvey:
I had never been impressed with the work of British director Adrian Lyne until I saw Diane Lane scorch up the screen in his most recent and very mature outing, Unfaithful. Youch! Until then, Fatal Attraction was Lyne's only highlight among the infamous Nine and a Half Weeks, the forgotten Flashdance, and the derided Lolita. With varying degrees of success and smuttiness, Lyne's Adam and Eve canon targets the collective themes of love, sex, and infidelity among consenting adults - and all their complications.
With 1993s Indecent Proposal, he poses a question so good it made the film infamous, even though most hated the film itself. So what would you do if offered a million bucks for a one-night stand (with your partner's consent)? After a quick office poll, nine people said they would hit the sack with a stranger for a quicky mill, and five said no because: a) the money isn't enough, b) the consequences are too high, and c) the person might be a freak. It's a juicy question. What would you do? That question seems deliberately designed to make the viewer confront his or her own ideas about marital fidelity, about where they would draw the line, and what they are prepared to sacrifice.
It creates a fantasy where, like the characters, you are given an amoral proposition and asked to solve it for yourself. It's a pity Indecent Proposal can't resolve it. It doesn't push the moral envelope far enough to be challenging, it's not sexy or raunchy enough to be memorable, and the acting is truly lamentable. Demi and Woody share zero chemistry, so it's hard to believe she would baulk at jumping old blue eyes' bones whether he's paying her or not. And why do Woody and Robert get to be good guys while banal Demi only gets to be good in bed? But look out for a pre-famous Billy Bob Thornton and for Oliver Platt as a lawyer negotiating for 5% of the mill, even if the old man can't get it up or dies in the act. And the scene where Demi rolls around on a waterbed covered in cash is like something from the Playboy mansion. The scene is pure Lyne: flesh, sweat, and smut.
It's a pity he doesn't reveal as much as Demi in his commentary, the only extra feature on the DVD. He's strangely polite, genial and innocent in the way he talks about such tawdry themes. He talks about the story and the characters, and he loves to mention the shots he likes better than others. He's obviously a very visual director, especially when it comes to sexy bodies. He even hints at casting Demi Moore more for her looks than her acting ability. "She had just given birth to her first baby," he says, "and she had this kind of round, womanly glow." So everything looks good in this moral fable. What a pity scriptwriter Amy Holden Jones can't come up with anything better than, "It's just my body. It's not my mind. It's not my heart." But what do you expect from the writer of Beethoven 1, 2, 3 and 4?
Published September 12, 2002
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INDECENT PROPOSAL: DVD (M15+)
(US - 1993)
CAST: Robert Redford, Demi Moore, Woody Harrelson, Seymour Cassel, Oliver
Platt, Billy Bob Thornton, Rip Taylor, Billy Connolly
DIRECTOR: Adrian Lyne
RUNNING TIME: 112 minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES: Commentary by director Adrian Lyne, Dolby Digital 5.1,
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount Home Video
DVD RELEASE: Friday, September 6, 2002