Last Seduction, The (United States, 1994)

A movie review by James Berardinelli

"[The Last Seduction] is a roller coaster of twists and turns. It is the classic film noir thriller, but it turns everything on its head. Just when you think you know what's going to happen, it does a twist into the unexpected. I'm a fan of the [noir] genre. I like atmosphere and I'm fascinated by the psychology of the characters -- the deceit, the betrayal and the desperation."
- John Dahl, director of The Last Seduction

Linda Fiorentino's Bridget Gregory does things to men that most of us wouldn't consider for what we scrape off the sidewalk. Using the word "bad" to describe her is as mammoth an understatement as calling the Sistine Chapel "nice" or the Grand Canyon "big". It has been decades since someone the likes of Bridget has graced the screen (Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity comes to mind, although her language was never this colorful), and who knows how long it will be until our next opportunity?

Director John Dahl has fun with this material, filming the modern-day noir potboiler with such gusto that it's impossible not to fall under its spell, nor under the influence of its sultry, completely conscienceless leading lady. Dahl, the man behind the twisty Red Rock West, saturates this picture with atmosphere. Every time Bridget takes another pull on her cigarette, we're reminded of a time when 98% of new releases where in black-and-white.

Sap #1 is Bridget's husband, Clay (Bill Pullman). At her prompting, he gets involved in a drug deal that nets him $700,000. He thinks that he and his wife are going to use this to feather their nest egg, but Bridget has other plans -- why split what she can have all to herself? No sooner has Bill gone into the shower than she grabs the money and runs, heading for the small upstate New York town of Beston, where people always say "hello", "please", and "thank you", and no one locks their doors at night. Sap #2 is Mike Swale (Peter Berg), a Beston native who thinks the town is too small for him -- until Bridget arrives. To her, he's a means to an end, something to use up and throw away. To him, she's the love of his life, and he means to make her love him in return, regardless of the cost. Big mistake.

The Last Seduction's dialogue, scripted by Steve Barancik and spoken by the likes of Fiorentino, Pullman, Berg, and J.T. Walsh, is scintillating, often hilarious, and occasionally insightful. The best lines are about Bridget -- "Anyone check you for a heartbeat lately?" and "I love you... I'm sure you feel the same way - I'm sure you love you, too" -- or from her -- "Spare me your brainless, countrified morality."

The Last Seduction is an entertaining motion picture to immerse oneself in -- significant chunks of the plot fall apart on close examination, but it holds up well enough during the watching, and nothing can dispel the power of Fiorentino's performance. It's great to see a woman getting this sort of plum role, and it proves that you don't have to go way over-the-top like Lena Olin in Romeo is Bleeding to ooze nastiness - or, in Bridget's case, to spew it.

Last Seduction, The (United States, 1994)

Director: John Dahl
Cast: Linda Fiorentino, Peter Berg, Bill Pullman, Bill Nunn, J.T. Walsh
Screenplay: Steve Barancik
Cinematography: Jeffrey Jur
Music: Joseph Vitarelli
U.S. Distributor: October Films
Run Time: 1:50
U.S. Release Date: -
MPAA Rating: "R" (Sexual Situations, Violence, Profanity, Nudity)
Subtitles: none
Theatrical Aspect Ratio: