Over the last few decades the noble and ancient institution of marriage has been surrounded by more than a little controversy. With divorce rates well over fifty percent there are those that doubt the effectiveness of marriage while other groups battle over the definition of marriage. Many films have explored the concept of marriage especially those under some extraordinary stressor but no movie of this particular genre has received the cultural recognition of ‘Indecent Proposal’. Since its debut in 1993 this flick has been the basis for countless parodies and spoof and the term has been adopted into the popular lexicon. This is the type of movie that admittedly makes more than its share of missteps but appears to strike such a chord with the audience that it has become a neo classic. It should be noted right up front here that the film can be pedantic and clichéd but there is such an intriguing, almost forbidden aspect to the premise that the flick pulls you in thus becoming a true guilty pleasure. At the time of its release personal reaction to the question of having sex for one million dollars became one of the most popular water cooler topics around. It seems natural the reaction to the premise was drastically influenced by gender. Men in the company of other men might boast that they are secure enough that there woman loves them to go for but when with the previously mention wives or girlfriends would adamantly state they could never agree to such a thing for any amount.
The flick cost a reported $38 million mostly fur to the box office draw of the two leads and despite less than stellar critical response went on to a global revenue of well over $260 million. Like many flicks in the guilty pleasure category it is no great artistically but there is an undeniable appeal to the story which affords audience permission to speculate on the premise. With the global economy in dire shape such an outlandish source of money may be more tempting than ever.
The screen play by Amy Holden Jones was loosely based on the novel by Jack Engelhard One major aspect lost in the transference was quite significant. In the book the wife of poor Jew was coveted by s rich Arab. This provided a different, sociological focus foe the story which was reduced to a simpler morality play here. This script is a bit of a departure for Ms Jones. A significant portion of her professional time was penning several installments to the goofy dog family franchise ‘Beethoven’. She also scripted a few thrillers of note and wrote the screenplay for the breakthrough film ‘Mystic Pizza’. Jones’ feminine perspective moves the story from a microcosm view of an age old cultural conflict to a romantic tragedy. While the original premise would have been fascinating to observe the direction taken here did make for a compelling tale. As most people already know the foundation of the story is the love between a married couple; David (Woody Harrelson) and Dana (Demi Moore) Murphy. He is a struggling architect, struggling being very much the operative word. The dream of David’s life is to build a house de designed. When the fund disappears and the couple is down to their last few thousand dollars the only course of action that seems sensible is to head to Las Vegas to bankroll that meager amount into a fortune. Natural since this fiscal plan is doomed from the start the young couple is left with nothing but each other and their mutually abiding love. Just as their last bet wipes them out Dana catches the eye of John Gage (Robert Redford) who is debonair, handsome and incredibly rich. He approaches David with an offer; one million dollars for a single night of passion with Dana. Okay, there is no doubt that Demi Moore woman but a million is a bit over priced, besides that little fact their love is strong but the bottom line id David is A dreamer but Gage is a well proven success and as noted in a very famous musical ‘money makes the world go around’. It should come to the surprise of no one that the lovely Dana is tempted especially when Gage begins to lavish her with his attention.
The film was directed by Adrian Lyne who has made a career with sexually provoking faire. Prior to this flick he had ‘Foxes’ which provided a look at early teen sexuality; a theme he would explore once again with ‘Lolita’. After the commercial success of this movie he would go on to the ultimate opus on what could go wrong with adultery, ‘Fatal Attraction’ and ‘Nine 1/2 Weeks’ a film that moved sex from the bedroom into the kitchen. Most of his films take on sexually charged topics but never go over the line to pander to puerile inclinations. To his credit Lyne always strives for an honest, frank exploration of human sexuality. This film, like several others from Lyne, displays the man’s one major short coming; he has the tendency to lose the central narrative by shifting the focus to an ancillary ploy line. In this case the story opens strongly setting up a moral dilemma. Once the deal is consummated the growing infatuation of Gage with Dana comes about with too little substantiation. It does, however, allows for the emotional reversals vital to the conclusion. The film is a new classic and for the most part holds together well enough.
The film has been released on DVD for awhile now but now it is getting the high definition treatment with a fresh Blu-ray release. The video is spectacular with s level of clarity that makes the upgrade well worthwhile. The new Dolby True HD lossless audio gives a sweeping sound stage. The commentary by the director is interesting and provides some insight to hoe he realized his artistic vision for this treatment of the story. If this isn’t part of your collection now is the time to do so.