Money can't buy you love but it can get you a reasonable facsimile thereof. In Indecent Proposal,
a billionaire slumming in Las Vegas tests this platitude by offering a happily married but financially strapped couple $1 million in exchange for one night with the missus. Convinced their marriage can withstand the consummation of this deal, the couple agrees, with predictable results ensuing: he goes crazy with jealousy, she cries a lot, and they eventually split up. This is, in a 25-words-or-less format, the plot of Indecent Proposal,
a movie as thin as the slick veneer with which director Lyne covers it. Lyne has the stylized talent of a soft-core pornographer; he choreographs his movies like languorous sex scenes. (Enough with the pulsating soundtracks and soft-focus photography already...) Like fellow director-decorators Tony Scott and Joel Schumacher, he's seemingly obsessed with what a scene looks like at the expense of how it plays. Moreover, he pays inordinate attention to inanimate things --- in Indecent Proposal,
tumbling dice and a ball bouncing on a spinning roulette wheel have lives of their own. (It must be a vestige of his television commercial background.) Amy Holden Jones' featherweight screenplay nicely complements Lyne's directorial style: both seem content to just glide across the surface. And movie buffs will notice that the script blatantly steals a monologue from Citizen Kane
as it attempts to explain the billionaire's obsessive attraction for a woman who unwittingly caught his eye. As the man with the money, Redford is strangely ideal. His weathered face suggests Dorian Gray, a man whose smooth demeanor belies the ruthless thing necessary to become a billionaire in today's world. His tenacious, idealized quest for love brings to mind Jay Gatsby, a man who wields his wallet like a weapon. Although it's questionable whether Redford appreciated the dark implications of his role -- he's infamous for just wanting to play nice guy roles -- he's the surprisingly best thing in a movie in which character and everything else only go skin deep.