One of a few popular steamy thrillers to come out in the mid-90s, Indecent Proposal, from director Adrian Lyne (best known for Fatal Attraction) should have been one of the best. With a cast headlined by Woody Harrelson, Demi Moore and Robert Redford, and based around a genuinely intriguing premise, the film sadly seems to give up around the half way mark, just when it should have really started to pick up steam.
David (Woody Harrelson) used to make a good living as an architect and his wife, high school sweetheart Diana (Demi Moore), a real estate agent, also did quite well for herself. Unfortunately, the implosion of the housing market has hurt their finances in a big way and while their marriage is still very strong, they find themselves worrying about money the way a lot of young couples do, particularly when it looks like they're going to lose their house. They decide to head to Las Vegas in hopes of winning it big and rebuilding but a strong first night is soon laid to rest by an abysmal second attempt and they soon realize this was a bad idea.
And that's when Diana catches the eye of a wealthy middle aged man named John Gage (Robert Redford) who offers the pair a million dollars cash for one night in bed with her. With a lifetime's worth of security too big a payoff to resist, they agree, and Gage actually has his lawyer (played by Oliver Platt) draw up a legally binding contract. While both David and Diana agree that this is an easy solution to their problems, as the night in question fast approaches they find themselves questioning their morality, their love, and the strength and worth of their very life together while Gage uses his money and legal power to do everything he can to force them to honor the agreement.
If you put yourself in either Harrelson or Moore's situation as you watch this film, you'll find your mind starts to wander a bit in that you might just find yourself questioning what you'd do in the same situation. A million dollars is a lot of money to most of us, and the proposition that Redford's character offers them is understandably tempting to the young couple but of course the whole catch and as such the whole premise of the film is... is it worth it? On this level, the movie makes you think. Unfortunately, once you get past the intriguing set up the character development gets a bit screwy. David and Diana are portrayed as a rock solid couple, as two people very much in love yet as soon as we start to believe in them and trust their relationship, that relationship is put to the test not only with the proposition but with Diana's subsequent reaction to the very temptation before them. The paradigm shift in character happens to quickly, and once it does, the movie becomes predictable making any previously built suspense null and void.
That said, the movie always looks pretty slick. The lighting, which makes use of a lot of cool blues and greens to build atmosphere results in a good looking movie. The performances are strong across the board, particularly from Redford who does a really good job making Gage as likeable as he is despicable and immoral. As food for thought the movie is interesting enough, it's just unfortunate that the trite and tired second half can't be bothered to capitalize on the first hour's worth of premise and character development.
Indecent Proposal looks fairly unimpressive in this 1.78.1 VC-1 encoded 1080p anamorphic widescreen transfer. Grain is heavy throughout the film and much of the image has been filtered to have an intentionally soft look to it. As such, detail suffers, resulting in a fairly flat looking image that, while sharp enough, isn't remarkable in any way, shape or form. Print damage isn't really much of an issue but detail levels are uniformly average, never really showing off what the extra resolution should allow over a standard definition release. Colors and tone look okay, even if they're definitely on the cool side, but again, they don't really stand out - the most obvious example being in the casino, where the colorful background should have more pop than it does here. That said, the disc is nicely authored in that there aren't any problems with mpeg compression artifacts, edge enhancement or nasty smearing - it's just that the picture isn't great, the whole thing, like the movie, is very middle of the road.
Warner has supplied an English language Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Mix and French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mixes as well as optional subtitles in English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese. As far as the quality of the audio is concerned, this isn't a particularly super active mix. Rears spring to life only occasionally, intermittently throwing in some sound effects during the more active casino sequences and playing with the score a bit. This isn't a film with a lot of action, it's primarily dialogue based, so thankfully the actors are always easy enough to understand but those hoping for a more enveloping experience will be left wanting. The lower end is noticeably only occasionally, with pretty much everything coming from the front of the mix. It's fine for what it is, however, as there aren't really any problems with it, rather, it's just unexciting.
The only extra of note is a commentary track that comes courtesy of the film's direction, Adrian Lyne, who speaks about what an honor it was for him to work with Robert Redford as well as the rest of the cast. He discusses shooting locations, script changes and generally just offers up a lot of very generic information about the film. It covers all the bases you'd expect it to - casting, editing, cinematography and scoring - but it doesn't offer up any real surprises nor does Lyne's often times monotone delivery help things out much and you definitely get the impression that he'd rather be somewhere else rather than doing this commentary track, resulting in a lot of dead air. Aside from that, look for menus and chapter selection options.
A very mediocre film, Indecent Proposal gets an equally mediocre release from Warner Brothers. The film never looks better than just okay, the audio doesn't add much to the proceedings and the extras are slim and, to make matters worse, pretty dull. This movie has its moments and benefits from a good cast and a marginally interesting storyline, so it's worth a rental, but it's hard to imagine anyone considering this a must own release.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.