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'The Last Seduction' (R)

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
November 18, 1994

What Sharon Stone did for the ice pick, Linda Fiorentino does for the ice princess in "The Last Seduction," a steely neo-noir thriller with a nasty comic veneer. A leggy brunette with smolder to spare, Fiorentino's femme fatale is heir not only to the genre's hard-boiled conventions but also to postmodernist sexual abandon.

John Dahl, who became a cult favorite with "Red Rock West," directs from a viciously funny first screenplay by Steve Barancik. A cautionary tale for horny saps of the sort who populate "Double Indemnity" and "Body Heat," the movie centers on the double-crossing machinations of Bridget Gregory (Fiorentino).

After persuading her husband, Clay (Bill Pullman), to pull off a dangerous drug deal, Bridget runs off with the $700,000 in cash, leaving Clay to face the loan shark who bankrolled the scheme. On the advice of her lawyer (J.T. Walsh), Bridget takes an alias and hides out in the town of Beston, where she soon lures another sucker, Mike (Peter Berg), into her bed. Actually, Bridget is just as happy on a doormat.

Mike is clearly out of his league and just as clearly doomed, but he simply can't believe that she's as uninterested in him as she repeatedly assures him she is. Despite obvious warning signs, Mike becomes inextricably involved in her scheme. In the land of noir, the boob deserves what he gets. Hell, he asks for it. That apparently is the point of this exercise in cynicism.

"The Last Seduction," like so much neo-noir, feels as practiced as a period drama. The characters might as well be wearing white gloves and long dresses as black stockings and slit skirts.

"The Last Seduction" is rated R for explicit sex, nudity and profanity.

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