Indecent Proposal

(1993) * 1/2 R
118 min. Paramount Pictures. Director: Adrian Lyne. Cast: Robert Redford, Demi Moore, Woody Harrelson, Seymour Cassel, Oliver Platt.

/content/films/3438/1.jpgAdrian Lyne's dull-witted Indecent Proposal often gets paired with his 1987 Fatal Attraction in home-video promotion, but the two aren't on an equal playing field. As adapted by screenwriter Amy Holden Jones from the novel by Jack Englehard, Indecent Proposal is all high concept with nowhere to go: would you sell your body for a night, to the tune of a million dollars? What makes for five minutes of interesting conversation, alas, does not make for an interesting two-hour movie. A lugubrious movie, on the other hand...no problem!

In an opening narration, architect David Murphy (Woody Harrelson) laments, "I thought nothing could change the way we felt about each other. I thought we were invincible." And I suppose that's a fair narrative approach, as we all know that his love-of-his-life wife Diana will say "yes" to the titular offer. She says "no" and you got no movie. After establishing the declining fortunes of the semi-grown-up high-school sweethearts--hit by a recession after investing in a dream home built by David--the pair do what any reasonable could would: drive to Vegas to double down on their future. There, Diana catches the eye of multi-millionaire John Gage (Robert Redford), a man accustomed to getting what he wants.

For a couple married at nineteen on the principle that "A life without risk is like no life at all," Gage's offer of a million dollars for one night with Diana isn't entirely out of the question, despite David's initial rejection. "You can't buy love?", Gage laughs. "That's a bit of a cliche, don't you think?" Soon, David's lawyer buddy (Oliver Platt) is checking out the contract and sealing the deal for a night that will have nasty consequences. Lyne's imagery immediately and unsubtly plunges David into hell, and the resulting torments are both predictable and, in their dramatic execution, clumsily unconvincing.

Redford tries valiantly to make his cardboard tycoon into something more--mysterious, charming, even likeable--but he's fatally hampered by the stupid script (sample line: "I bought you because you said you couldn't be bought." Oh, okay then--wha?). John Barry contributes the score, and Billy Bob Thornton, Seymour Cassel and Billy Connelly (as himself) turn up to no avail. The whole enterprise is utterly ridiculous from start to finish. The only compensation is Lyne's imagery, but since it's untethered from an engrossing narrative, it has little more effect than a perfume commercial. The film's most memorable image is a sex scene of Moore and Harrelson rolling around on a bed covered in cash, thoughtfully preceded by the line "I love you...even without the money."

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Bluray

Aspect ratios: 1.78:1

Number of discs: 1

Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1

Street date: 6/9/2009

Distributor: Paramount Home Video

Indecent Proposal looks good on Blu-ray: it's a slightly hazy, significantly grainy image that should be familiar to connoisseurs of Lyne's work. In spite of looking its age, the faithful picture also offers the best detail yet available in home video, so fans should be well pleased. The lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix doesn't have much to test it; there's little in the way of surround immersion. It's the sort of track that gets the job done with an overall clarity.

Only one bonus feature here, but it's a substantial one: a commentary with director Adrian Lyne. Given the film, Lyne isn't as gregarious as he has been elsewhere, but he dutifully discusses shooting at casinos and working with the legendary Redford, among other topics. Unfortunately, he also lapses into a number of long pauses.

Review gear:
Panasonic Viera TC-P55VT30 55" Plasma 1080p 3D HDTV
Oppo BDP-93 Universal Network 3D Blu-ray Disc Player
Denon AVR2112CI Integrated Network A/V Surround Receiver
Pioneer SP-BS41-LR Bookshelf Speaker (2)
Pioneer SP-C21 Center Speaker
Pioneer SW-8 Subwoofer

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