Sunday, June 3, 2018
JEFF OF THE CINEFILES & UNFINISHED BUSINESS: HALL OF FAME: FILE #0052: THE LAST SEDUCTION (1994)
Directed By: John Dahl
Written By: Steve Barancik
Cinematography By: Jeffrey Jur
Editor: Eric L. Beason
Cast: Linda Fiorentino, Peter Berg, Bill Pullman, Bill Nunn, Dean Norris, J.T. Walsh
Bridget Gregory has a lot going for her: she's beautiful, she's intelligent, she's married to a doctor. But all of this isn't enough, as her husband Clay finds out. After she persuaded him to sell medicinal cocaine to some drug dealers, she takes off with the money, almost a million dollars, and goes undercover in a mid-American small town. Because Clay has to pay off a loan shark who'll otherwise damage him severely, he keeps sending detectives after her, trying to retrieve the money. When Bridget meets Mike Swale, a naive local who is blinded by her beauty and directness, she devises an elaborate, almost diabolical scheme to get rid of Clay once and for all.
Linda fiorentino gives an amazing performance as one of the big screens ultimate femme fatales of all time. It is still one of the most subtlety amazing and haunting performances that doesn’t even seem like acting at all. One has ever see. She just makes it seem effortless. This stands next to Lena Olin in ROMEO IS BLEEDING as one of the mossy badass female femme fatale performances. Where the character is as dangerous as she is sexy.
It seems one of the reasons she never got an Oscar nomination was that the film premiered on HBO. The film got eventual limited release in theaters but too little too late. She seemed to capitalize on it for a while even though she was a constantly working actress before but lately has seemed to disappear from the screen. Because I am sure one of the reasons was when she was working more general audiences wondered where she came from and why she was getting so much work. As this film wasn’t the most popular amongst those not in the movie know. It still isn’t
This is one. If those films what to discover but as I am talking about it. One also wants to entice you and at least give a hint as to why it is so special.
One of the factors that works with this film is the fact that in some of it’s details it’s rather plain and that makes the film unassuming. There is no fancy camerawork that calls attention it itself. The design of the film is black, grey and whites as far as colors. There is nothing specific about anything. So it all blends together. The stand outs are the characters as they are all so colorful. The world in which they inhabit and the codes of behavior are foreign yet original. Especially by having the men being basically almost pawns to her more than anything else.
As this premiered in HBO it seemed more heir typical erotic thriller with a minor crime element, but once you watch it and pay attention it has a surprising amount of humor in places as well just a surprising demeanor at times. Especially when it takes itMs twists and turns.
That is how I discovered the film I thought it was a typical made for cable erotic thriller more emphasis on the self then a b movie crime plot. Sure the sex scenes are interesting but they seem to take a back seat to the story, emotions and characters. That by the end left one shocked. Though with a wicked smile on my face. That is what I enjoy in films and strive for in my own work. Bring an audience in for one thing but then expose them to something they never expected.
The many different dimensions and shades. Linda fiorentino has to play believably so that she keeps even is on the audience guessing shows the depths of her performance.
When everything seems the same when twists and turns and revelations happen they are magnified and in essence all the more powerful. As they seem to come from Nowhere.
This seems more like a prestige film where more or less what you see is what you get but wants to be celebrated as a more Oscar ready legacy film.
Linda Fiorentino was widely lauded by critics for her performance in this movie but was denied an Academy Award nomination because it came out on TV before a theatrical release.
This is a film that wouldn’t be as noted without that performance. It’s a good film but with that perfect piece in it. It truly does come together rather perfectly. Which proves casting is key and when you have total faith in your performers you have less to worry about.
This film is a dark comedy in a sense though it seems serious there is a lot of humor and it continuously has a cynical nature.
Over the years I expected the film to have become more popular as a cult item or an infamous underrated film, but while some have seen it. it is rarely mentioned to me it’s an undiscovered gem that holds a place close in met heart as one of the best modern day neo noir films.
It’s to the films credit It stays low key. we follow the character though the stakes are never truly high in a save the world or life or death manner. It all seems to be about sex and money but as the film goes on the noose begins to tighten and it gets more and more dangerous and the stakes are raised. Yet never fully dangerous though still have you in the edge of your seat in anticipation to see how the dilemma will play out. According to an interview with screenwriter Steve Barancik ITC Entertainment executives thought the movie would be a typical "Skin-e-max" movie popular on premium cable channels. One executive was upset when he viewed a scene in which Linda Fiorentino wore only a pair of suspenders instead of being completely topless. When viewing the dailies of the scene, the executive asked, "Are we making an art movie?!" He demanded that the scene be cut and made the principal cast and crew pledge that they had no "artistic pretensions."
The same can be said of director John Dahl who directed this right after another straight to video noir RED ROCK WEST with Nicolas Cage, Lara Flynn Boyle and Dennis hopper. After this film he flirted with Hollywood with the movie UNFORGETTABLE which starred Ray Liotta and Again worked with Linda Fiorentino. Unfortunately the title was not accurate as the film was rather forgettable. After that film he never seemed to find his breakout success. As this so far seems to be his classic masterpiece. It’s a shame though it does make you question if at times it is all about fate or being lucky with casting and material though I hope for a return to form by him. As I do believe he has a lot of talent. Hopefully Linda fiorentino makes a comeback also.
They don’t make them Like this anymore