Saturday 8 July 2023

Movie Review: The Last Seduction (1994)

Genre: Neo-Noir Crime Thriller
Director: John Dahl
Starring: Linda Fiorentino, Peter Berg, Bill Pullman, Bill Nunn, J.T. Walsh
Running Time: 110 minutes

Synopsis: In New York City, corrupt doctor Clay Gregory illegally sells a batch of medications for $700,000 in cash. He desperately needs the money to pay-off a loan shark, but is stunned when his wife Bridget (Linda Fiorentino) takes off with all the money. She hides under a new identity in the small town of Beston near Buffalo, where she seduces local man Mike Swale (Peter Berg) and engages lawyer Griffith (J.T. Walsh) to negotiate a divorce. Instead Clay hires private detective Harlan (Bill Nunn) to track down his runaway wife and recover the money, but she has several contingency plans.

What Works Well: Director John Dahl and writer Steve Barancik deliver a smooth and sexy noir, a direct descendent of 1940s crime-and-seduction masterpieces and reminiscent of 1981's Body Heat. In Bridget, Linda Fiorentino finds the role of her career and occupies the fatale skin of an unforgettably imperious narcissist, perfectly defined by Joseph Vitarelli's playful jazz score. The plot is a twisty battle-of-wits between Bridget and Clay, with side-characters including Mike and Harlan unwitting pawns in a duel they do not understand. The compact narrative still finds time for biting humour, and pokes at themes of female empowerment, small town malaise, and the clash between ambition and ability.

What Does Not Work As Well: The plot offers only a tenuous explanation as to why Bridget does not use her genius to simply disappear rather than waste her time seeking a divorce.

Conclusion: A pleasure-filled, dark-souled delight.

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