Sunday 9 January 2022

Movie Review: Indecent Proposal (1993)

A romantic drama, Indecent Proposal posits an interesting dilemma but proceeds to bungle the premise.

Los Angeles high school sweethearts Dave and Diana Murphy (Woody Harrelson and Demi Moore) married young and are still deeply in love. He is an architect and she is a real estate agent. But they overextend financially, and when a recession hits, they find themselves near bankruptcy and about to lose everything.

In a desperate attempt to raise cash they head to Las Vegas, where billionaire tycoon John Gage (Robert Redford) spots Diana and is immediately infatuated. After the couple's gambit to make money at the tables fails, John makes them an extraordinary offer: one night of intimacy with Diana in exchange for a million dollars. The couple have to decide if the money is worth the risk to their marriage, but John's agenda extends beyond just the one night.

Indecent Proposal is more of a cocktail party conversation starter than a movie. Directed with magazine glossiness by Adrian Lyne from a truistic script by Amy Holden Jones, the narrative peaks when the billionaire pops the question. What follows is a quick decent to the land of Dave's jealousy and John's stalking, Diana caught between two men demonstrating juvenile and entitled behaviour within a distastefully warped love triangle.

Which is all unfortunate. The three photogenic stars deserve better material to work with, the script leaving them stranded without basic definitions. As the one night stand develops into a longer pursuit and relationship, Diane never questions what John sees in her, nor when he will discard her in favour of the next ingenue he spots at a boutique. Nor does she express any concerns about jumping from a scrappy life to the elite circle of billionaires.

Hubby Dave switches in an instant from go-along to manically possessive, while John Gage is the blandest of billionaires. Redford affixes a condescending smile and glides through the movie with a laughably unconvincing justification for Gage's exercise in home-wrecking - something about not finding the courage to speak to a stranger on a subway car when he was a teenager.

Boosted by a radiant Demi Moore, the earlier scenes of Dave and Diana as a young couple in love carry an attractive innocence, and Lyne knows his way around a good sex scene. The passionate details of Diana's night with John are omitted, a clever creative decision to capture Dave's state of mind. But despite the occasional spark, Indecent Proposal is a decent idea wasted.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

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