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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 drugdealers, she takes off with the money, almost a million dollars, and goes undercover in a mid-American smalltown. 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. Written by
Peter Zweers <email@example.com>
Director John Dahl's stylish film noir `Red Rock West' couldn't find a distributor, played on cable television and then was picked up by a San Francisco moviehouse where it set attendance records. If you think its subsequent success taught Hollywood suits anything, you just aren't cut out for the movie business.
With an even better script by Steve Barancik, Dahl found the ideal lead to play the very fatale femme of `The Last Seduction.' Linda Fiorentino, someone else who hasn't been well served by Hollywood, gave one of the great performances of the 1990s as Bridget/Wendy. Her no-holds-barred potrayal perfectly matched Barancik's uncompromising writing. Fiorentino deserved an Oscar, but didn't qualify because this film also went straight to cable before finding a distributor and becoming a hit.
Limited resources can focus the mind. Dahl isn't the most sweepingly visual of directors, but he can provide the occasional arresting scene. With a small but outstanding cast of what were then B-list actors, everyday settings and a tiny budget, the director kept `The Last Seduction' focused on the basics needed to make this genre work.
Without revealing too much of the plot, Bridget is on the lam after stealing $700,000 in drug proceeds from her sleazy, abusive husband, well played by Bill Pullman just before he became a good-guy leading man. The late great J.T. Walsh is smooth as a silk suit as Bridget's attorney, who appreciates a cold-hearted bitch. Bill Nunn does yeoman work as the detective on her trail.
But the key to this sort of black widow movie is a willing sap, and Peter Berg makes one of the best. A lean slice of beecake, he's back in his small town after a disastrous fling in the big city, that is, Buffalo. He's looking to get out again, and when Bridget breezes into the local shot-and-beer joint with her `city trash' attitude, he's done for.
As another reviewer chooses to emphasize, with her skinny legs and barely pubescent, pancake-flat chest Linda Fiorentino is the scrawniest femme fatale in the history of film noir. But that just makes her and her character's progress more amusing. Like Bridget, Fiorentino gets over on attitude more than pulchritude.
While Fiorentino's physique won't make women viewers jealous, many respond enthusiastically to the sex scene where Bridget rides Berg's Mike against a fence behind the bar. In fact, there's hardly a standard bedroom scene: most of the sex is of the right-now kind. And while both seem to enjoy themselves a lot, Bridget is clearly in control, emotionally and physically.
In recent years, we've gotten used to zaftig super-women like Xena throwing men around. But perhaps not since the heyday of Diana Rigg on `The Avengers' has there been a thin, flat-chested woman who dominates males like Linda Fiorentino takes care of business here. Bridget certainly isn't a role model, but her enthusiasm for her work is infectious.
This movie also has the courage of its convictions. If it seems amoral, well just about every Arnold Schwartzenegger movie celebrates massive killing by so-called `good guys.' The only difference between this movie and Hollywood's standard murderous agit-prop is that `The Last Seduction' has a brain.
Unfortunately, great work doesn't always bring great rewards. Fiorentino was good in Kevin Smith's ramshackle low-budget `Dogma,' only to be dissed by the director. She was one of the best elements of the equally ramshackle but costly `Men in Black,' only to be booted from the sequel for more compliant girls. (In Hollywood's homoerotic subtext, `buddy movie' means no women allowed.)
Fiorentino did hook up aagin with John Dahl in the highly forgettable `Unforgettable,' weighed down by a bigger budget, second-rate script and Ray Liotta. Both the director and his leading lady are still in play, though, so we can hope they will find other siutations worthy of their talents. And if not, Linda Fiorentino makes `The Last Seduction' unforgettable.
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