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Indecent Proposal (4K Ultra HD)
English director Adrian Lyne is no stranger to erotic thrillers, having directed Fatal Attraction and 9 1/2 Weeks. He took a detour into more straightforward material with Jacob's Ladder before returning to the genre with Indecent Proposal, which "won" the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Picture in 1993. Based on Jack Engelhard's 1988 novel and written for the screen by Amy Holden Jones, Indecent Proposal may have a lurid premise, but it never really lives up to its potential. Despite the buzzy tender at the heart of the film, Indecent Proposal is often dull, despite strong performances from Woody Harrelson, Demi Moore and Robert Redford. While it may have drummed up some controversy in 1993, the film feels pretty tame 30 years later.
The opening montage introduces us to married high-school sweethearts David and Diana Murphy (Harrelson and Moore, respectively); and we also learn that the pair has separated. Cut to happier times, when Diana is a successful real estate agent and David is a burgeoning architect. The couple gambles on a seaside property for David to renovate but finds the bank knocking at their door when a recession hits. They decide to travel to Las Vegas in hopes of winning enough money to pay off their debts, but the house is not kind to the couple. While shopping at a boutique, Diana draws the attention of wealthy John Gage (Redford), who offers to buy her an expensive dress. She declines, but sees Gage again in the casino, where she makes a winning craps roll on Gage's $1 million bet. Gage subsequently pays for a lavish hotel room for the couple before making his proposal: $1 million to spend the night with Diana.
You can see how the moral dilemma created here is quite a hook for a thriller. Yet Lyne, who is not exactly a reserved filmmaker, never pushes the limits of the film's potential themes and consequences. What we end up with is neither a particularly erotic thriller nor a compelling morality play. Indecent Proposal is mostly a flat drama with decent performances from actors who are far better than this material. Harrelson and Moore have some decent chemistry, and the strain of financial hardship is relatable. Going to Vegas is a pretty silly way to earn money, but most of the plot devices here are equally as contrived. The idea of letting a spouse sleep with a billionaire for $1 million is certainly cause from marital discord, especially for the spouse making the physical sacrifice. But Indecent Proposal handles this slippery slope without really exploring the consequences of David and Diana's choices.
It is not much of a spoiler to say Diana travels with Gage to his yacht and returns to David the next morning. He is despondent and moody but tries to move on. Things go from bad to worse when the pair finds their property already has been sold, making the $1 million less valuable. The film spends nearly two hours following the miserable leads, while Gage pops in and out of the story to move the plot forward. Harrelson and Moore are both committed to these roles, but the narrative does not give them much to work with. It would have been interesting to take the consequences of this doomed deal to darker places, both physically and emotionally, but Indecent Proposal is content to tread water. Gage could be seen as a true sexual villain, but he is largely exonerated by lazy writing. By the time the film nears its saccharine ending, I had lost interest in the proceedings. With a plot summary that promises ethical dramas and punchy thrills, the film largely fails to deliver.
THE 4K ULTRA HD:
The film makes its 4K debut with a 1.78:1/2160p/HEVC/H.265 transfer from a native 4K source and featuring Dolby Vision and HDR10. Approved by director Lyne, this transfer does a fine job replicating a theatrical experience that, due to the dated cinematography and filming styles, has its own limitations. The film offers a fine layer of grain that remains fairly consistent throughout. I noticed no issues with digital noise reduction or edge halos, and this is a filmic presentation. Fine-object detail is strong, from costumes to facial features to set dressings. The HDR pass is relatively restrained; colors appear natural, highlights are appropriate, and black levels are good. Much of the film has a hazy, softer appearance, but this is inherent in the source. The image looks nice in motion, and I appreciate the strong shadow detail and nicely resolved colors in dimmer indoor scenes.
The disc offers 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks with optional English SDH subtitles. Both are more than serviceable, with excellent dialogue reproduction. The 5.1 mix offers more ambient surround effects, and the score is dispersed fully around the room. I noticed no issues with distortion or crowding.
PACKAGING AND EXTRAS:
This two-disc set includes the 4K disc and a Blu-ray copy. The discs are housed in a standard 4K case that is wrapped in a slipcover. Both discs include an older Audio Commentary by Director Adrian Lyne. The Blu-ray also includes the Trailer (2:15/HD).
Fans of the film can pick up Kino's new 4K Ultra HD set in confidence, as the movie looks and sounds great. I was not taken by Indecent Proposal, which is a disappointingly dull thriller that fails to live up to its lurid premise. Skip It.
William lives in Burlington, North Carolina, and looks forward to a Friday-afternoon matinee.