Indecent Proposal [DVD]
Screenplay : Amy Holden Jones (based on the novel by Jack Engelhard)
MPAA Rating : R
Year of Release : 1993
Stars : Robert Redford (John Gage), Demi Moore (Diana Murphy), Woody Harrelson (David Murphy), Oliver Platt (Jeremy), Seymour Cassel (Shackelford)
Indecent Proposal uses an unconventional story to support some very conventional beliefs: Marriage is an important and lasting institution, money isn't everything, forgiving is more important that forgetting, and love is required for lovemaking.
Everyone knows that this is the movie that involves the million-dollar question, the indecent proposal of the title. It comes from billionaire John Gage (Robert Redford), who propositions David Murphy (Woody Harrelson) and his wife, Diana (Demi Moore). Gage will give them a million dollars if Diana agrees to spend one night with him. "The night would come and go, but the money could last a lifetime," Gage tells them. "Think about it. A lifetime of security for one night."
While they adamantly refuse at first, the offer becomes more and more appealing because, if there's one thing David and Diana need, it's financial security. They had been leading a storybook life: They eloped because their parents thought they were too young to get married, supported each other through school, gotten good jobs, and started building their dream house. But, the roof caved in when the recession hit. David was laid off from work, and they had no income while bills were mounting. Desperate to make their payments, David and Diana borrowed $5,000 from his father, which they foolishly tried to build up by gambling it in Las Vegas. That plan worked for a while, but then they lost it all, putting them even further in debt.
This is important because it lends an additional aspect to their decision to accept the proposal. They don't do it because they are greedy--they do it because they're desperate and don't see any alternative. They make the decision together, vowing that they will just forget about it when it's over and pretend it never happened. The night comes, but afterward they can't forget about it, and its memory eats at the foundation of their relationship and their marriage.
Despite its flashy exterior, Indecent Proposal is actually a deeply conservative film. It is a contemporary love story that puts age-old morals to the test, and proves that they still stand strong. It has the many stamps of its director, Adrian Lyne (Flashdance, Fatal Attraction), including striking visuals, slow motion photography, rapid-fire editing, and steamy sex scenes. But, these are all just means to an end. All the sex depicted on screen is between man and wife, and when it comes to the big moment between Redford and Moore, the screen discreetly fades to black, refusing to allow the audience the cheap thrill of watching the destructive act.
Redford, with his charming smile and ageless good looks, was an ideal casting choice because John Gage is such a complex and contradictory man. On the outside he appears to be all brash, womanizing pretentiousness, casually betting millions of dollars on card games while a captivated audience is watching. But, as the film progress, and we get to see more and more of him, we realize he has another side trying to break through the showy facade he's created for himself.
Demi Moore was cast as Diana probably not so much for her acting ability as for her beauty. After all, one night with her has to be worth $1 million, so she'd better smolder on-screen. The camera lingers over her face throughout the film, and there are numerous times when Lyne employs mirrors to fill the frame with multiple images as Diana checks her hair or puts on lipstick or tries on a dress. Moore is both sensual and earthy, depending on the requirements of the scene. Her character is really a very ordinary woman who just happens to be beautiful, and it's that combination that catches Gage's eye.
Harrelson does surprisingly well in his role as the jealous husband. There is one sequence in particular, right after he leaves Diana to be with Gage, that is particularly affecting. Suddenly realizing that they made the wrong decision, he tears through the hotel, calling her name, all to no avail. He spends the rest of the night unable to sleep, wandering through the casinos like a lost soul.
If there is an overarching theme in this film, it is the relative unimportance of money in the face of love. David and Diana's relationship breaks down as a result of their decision to go through with the proposal; but, in the end, love still triumphs. In that way, Indecent Proposal is very old-fashioned. Near the end of the film, David tells Diana, "I was just so afraid that you wanted him. No, I was afraid you were right to want him because I thought he was the better man. But, now I know he's not. He's just got more money."
|Indecent Proposal DVD|
|Audio||English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround|
English, French Dolby 2.0 Surround
|Distributor||Paramount Home Video|
|Release Date||April 16, 2002|
| 1.85:1 (Anamorphic) |
The new anamorphic widescreen transfer is sharp and clean, with good color saturation and nice detail. The image has a fine grain to it, which gives it a nice film-like image without losing any of the details in the image.
|English Dolby Digital 5.1, English and French Dolby 2.0 Surround|
The new 5.1-channel mix isn't particularly showy, but it's effective for the material. The majority of the soundtrack is reserved for the front soundstage, but the surrounds become active whenever John Barry's musical score is featured.
| Audio commentary by director Adrian Lyne|
Lyne's commentary is a bit spotty, with quite a few moments of dead silence and too many "I like this shot" or "I like that costume" comments. His commentary does show how he is a director finely tuned into details, and he also offers some interesting philosophical observations on the film. He has a nice way of explaining that the film's controversial nature is deeply rooted in individual perceptions. At one point, he says that 20 people could watch the scene in which David and Diana decide to go through with the proposal and come out with 20 different interpretations regarding their motivations, which is exactly what makes the film worth watching again.
Copyright © 1997, 2002 James Kendrick