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Indecent Proposal

Rated R, 117 min. Directed by Adrian Lyne. Starring Robert Redford, Demi Moore, Woody Harrelson, Oliver Platt.

REVIEWED By Steve Davis, Fri., April 9, 1993

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.
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