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Indecent Proposal

review by Zach B.



Rating: R (For Sexuality and Language)

Running Time: 116 minutes

Starring: Robert Redford, Demi Moore, Woody Harrelson, Oliver Platt, Seymour Cassel

Screenplay by: Amy Holden Jones
Based upon the novel by: Jack Engelhard

Directed by: Adrian Lyne


Studio: Paramount

Retail Price: $24.95

Features: Audio Commentary with Director Adrian Lyne

Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Surround, French Stereo, English Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Selection (16 Scenes)

Released: April 16th, 2002



Wow, it's been nine years since "Indecent Proposal"? How time flies. I remember living out in Los Angeles at the time and passing by the Mann Bruin in Westwood nearly every single day seeing it there. That mylar going around the theater still remains rather crisp in my mind, as well as the crowd of people on a Saturday afternoon showing on the first weekend. But let's be honest here, "Indecent Proposal" has always been a somewhat controversial movie. Some may think of it in a bad sense, but in my opinion, the controversial issues it brings here are rather good and honest: can a price be put on love? I'll divulge into that a bit more once I finish up my plot summary, which begins now:

"Indecent Proposal," based on the book by Jack Engelhard, follows married lovers David and Diana Murphy (Woody Harrelson and Demi Moore). The film begins in sweet narratives from the two. From their young marriage opposed by their parents (I think it's a little stretch to see these actors at a young age in the film, but it's brief) to what seems their undying love, despite money problems, the two seem to have it okay. I mean, love over finances, right? However, the lovers money problems do become quite tight and are at risk at losing their home.

David has a crazy idea of taking all that they have left (about five thousand dollars which David gets from his father), going to Vegas and risking it in hopes to win more. Naturally, David's scheme fails. But in a sense, it's not all a failure as our movie starts to unwind. Diana meets billionare John Gage (Robert Redford). John is willing to offer the couple one million dollars. But at what price? If John can spend one night with Diana. And so, here comes the main question the film asks and explores (and I mentioned it earlier): can you put a price on love?

"Indecent Proposal" is one of those films that seems to warrant discussion with those you know after you watch it. Personally, I think true love comes over money and hardships, and in the end, should conquer all. But I bet you'll find a lot of people who'd think different. I'm sure some people would agree to a proposal like John Gage's, I'm sure others would be conflicted yet find a way to justify it. I guess that's what I like about "Indecent Proposal" - its themes are rather strong and true, and asks us to question ourselves as people, making us think about our values, our morals and who we really are. It's really about decisions that affect our lives in incredible ways, how we approach them, our thoughts on them, the outcome and the effects. I guess it also shows yet again how money can really be the root of distrust and evil. I personally do enjoy stories like that, and as far as storytelling goes, "Indecent Proposal" hits the mark there.

Still, this film is by no means perfect. I guess my biggest complaint is Amy Holden Jones's script. The outcome is whipped out and isn't as developed as it should be, while the story itself, as one may would expect, is vastly manipulative. Still, I'm guilty of getting sucked right into it, being intrigued by the morals of the characters and what they want. I also guess the movie is a bit predictable too. It basically plays out how you expect it, yet is still vastly entertaining by keeping its tension and its passion, let alone the strong dialogue and sense of honesty.

The movie, of course, was directed by Adiran Lyne. This is exactly a type of movie you'd expect him to do, yet how he handles it may suprise some. I believe why this movie works better than it should is because of Lyne. This isn't as sleazy or tempestrous as some of his other work. Rather, while creating a pretty sleazy plot with moral value, he handles the movie as a love story. It can be rather sensuous and tender actually, and how he handles key scenes is actually rather wonderful, giving us more to think about. But he makes the film tamer than it should be I suppose, and that's a good thing. He takes the more important aspects and outweighs them over a lot of other things, which heightens the impact.

The John Barry score is quite nice and fits with the film well, while the acting drives this movie and is well cast. Our three main leads, of course, have their own moral values that end up clashing. Robert Redford plays Gage as he should: charming, seductive and a smug attitude about getting what he wants, yet not knowing the true meaning to everything. Woody Harrelson as David may just be the most complex character of the film, as he loves his wife and is always quite intense as well as honest. Finally we have Demi Moore. Innocent victim or someone who is caught in everything? She's quite strong and powerful as Diana. Supporting roles from Seymour Cassell and one of my favorite character actors, Oliver Platt, bring their own niche to the film.

"Indecent Proposal" reaches a level one may not expect it too, and for that reason, it works. Like I said, it really does make us think about who we are and brings up good issues. It'd be easy to make this flick something of sex and smutt, without the impact and themes it really has, but Lyne, thankfully, focuses on the morality and the characters more. If you like a good drama and a overall solid but pretty predictable flick, "Indecent Proposal" is worth checking out.


Presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, "Indecent Proposal" looks quite good. It's a bit soft and can be grainy, but I believe that's the intended look of the film and fits with it quite nicely. Fleshtones are really nice and seem to be right on target giving a nice, three-dimensional look to the image. The well saturated colors are bold and deep, bringing a good sense of vibrancy to so many things - Vegas, the ocean and much more. They are not underwhelming and don't smudge or anything. There are some specks here and there, but aren't too noticeable and by no means distract. There's also some slight noise in some scenes too, but like the little instances, they don't get in the way. Overall, a nice and solid transfer.


Our main staple here is the English 5.1 Dolby Digital track, which is pretty good. Dialogue is crisp and is not hard to hear, as other sound elements do not overpower it. Las Vegas sounds such as slots and rings have nice surrounds, as well as people cheering and talking in some key gambling scenes. John Barry's musical score sounds pretty nice, while the subwoofer use is small yet can be rather efficient. There is good activity and fidelity throughout the track. This track doesn't have incredibly large dynamics, but works with the film quite nicely. Also included are English Dolby Surround and French stereo tracks, plus English closed captions and English subtitles.


The only thing we have here is an Audio Commentary with Director Adrian Lyne. He can be rather silent at times which I found a bit annoying, but Lyne has a nice speaking voice and offers what he likes about the film, as well as some interesting tidbits on making the movie as well as some production stories. It almost feels like Lyne only contributes when he wants. Too bad the pace on this didn't move quicker and he didn't have more to offer. That was a bit disappointing, if not annoying.


"Indecent Proposal" is a very good film about love and money, as it asks ourselves what really matters in the end. With strong direction, great acting and a deep tone, this is a film that entertains and is a cut above. The DVD presentation is solid, while the audio commentary from Lyne is pretty nice. I would have liked more extras, maybe retrospective interviews with the cast and their thoughts on the film, but this DVD is worth picking up if you enjoy it, otherwise, it's a good rental for sure.