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‘Indecent Proposal’

By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
April 09, 1993


Adrian Lyne
Robert Redford;
Demi Moore;
Woody Harrelson;
Oliver Platt;
Seymour Cassel
Under 17 restricted

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In "Indecent Proposal," billionaire Robert Redford offers Woody Harrelson and Demi Moore a cool million for a night with Moore. It sends the married couple into a quandary. Well, not that much of a quandary. After initially rejecting Redford, they can't sleep that night.

"I just keep thinking about it," says Moore.

Uh-huh. In Adrian Lyne's latest monstrosity, love takes on money -- and loses. Not necessarily in the story, of course. This is a Hollywood movie. I'm talking between the lines.

On the money side, you have Redford, who may resemble a wax effigy of himself but is loaded. On the side of love, you have down-and-out architect Harrelson, whose greatest qualities are the soulless "dream house" he has constructed overlooking the Pacific coast and his propensity for strewing underwear all over the house.

Demi, take the money.

Underwear, it turns out, becomes quite a motif. Determined to show off her six-hour-a-day workout, Moore slips into panties more times than the average Victoria's Secret model. At one point, during one of the couple's heated moments, Harrelson unwittingly tosses his jocks onto a burning stove.

"Your pants are on fire," says Moore, looking over his shoulder.

"You have no idea," says ardent Harrelson.

This is a relationship in which the most heartfelt exchange is: "Did I ever tell you I love you?" It's a romance in which Moore loves Harrelson because he makes her see the architectural beauty in carwash buildings, because he impulsively leaps over parking meters, because it says she has to love him in the script.

In romantic exposition more rushed than a Folgers coffee commercial, we see them get married (when Moore is "19"), build that dream house, then get hit by the recession. When they miss their second mortgage payment, they lose the home.

Absurdly, Moore goes along with Harrelson's suggestion to risk their dwindling resources at the gambling tables in Las Vegas. Continuing the absurdity, they win more than $25,000, then let it dwindle to nothing again. At this point, they deserve Redford.

The events that follow (scripted by Amy Holden Jones) are so ridiculous, you wouldn't believe me if I told you. Suffice it to say that the steamy Moore-Redford session (never shown) puts a major crimp on the Moore-Harrelson marriage. After all, what's a million dollars with shattered trust? Actually, it's a million dollars. But love is supposed to win, so we continue with the charade.

Director Lyne, whose "Fatal Attraction" looks celestial by comparison, indulges in such fraudulent morality you assume he's kidding. He isn't. He's also dead serious about his visual schemes. When Harrelson and Moore win that $25,000, they strew their hotel bed with the money and make love over it, while Sade croons "This is no ordinary love" on the soundtrack. Adrian, baby, that is so . . . . there. Then there's the self-consciously "realistic" shot in which Moore reads the latest bad news from the bank, atop the commode, her panties once again in comically gratuitous view. The filmmakers, at the very least, could have done the decent thing: give the bloomers a screen credit of their own.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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