Indecent Proposal (1993)

Indecent Proposal is one of those movies that came out in my younger years, became a part of the pop culture lexicon, and I managed to have no idea what it was about besides rolling around in money.

So yeah, there is rolling around in money involved, but I ended up being far more charmed by the film than I expected.
I never realized how much Woody Harrelson looks like Matthew McConaughey. Maybe it's the glasses?
Diana and David Murphy (Demi Moore and Woody Harrelson) are high school sweethearts who share a supportive and passionate relationship that includes fighting about dirty clothes all over the house and having sex on the kitchen floor.* Anyway, Diana is a real estate agent and David is an architect with dreams of building his own dream house someday. Unfortunately the economic recession hits,** and they fall behind on payments toward the dream house, even with Oliver Platt as an accountant. So they do what any fiscally responsible adults do and gamble in Vegas.

Nice shades.
The first night they win $25,000 that is used for rolling in/sexy times. They decide to press their luck and try the next night. Of course they lose. And of course a handsome millionaire (Robert Redford) takes notice of Diana. This millionaire, John Gage, starts treating the couple to a nice hotel suite and a party--even giving Diana a dress she was admiring earlier.

Demi Moore in 1993 or modern-day hipster? You decide.
Then things get strange over a game of pool, and John hypothetically tests the couple's love by asking, what if he gave them a million dollars for one night with Diana. This turns into a serious question that the couple flatly refuses. Except they keep thinking about it that night in bed and in the morning the deal is made. The rest of the movie follows the fall out resulting in this transaction, including suspicion and more meddling from John Gage.

Absolutely charmed by shirtless Harrelson.
While this movie was never going to be a particularly intelligent film, the handling of the last half of the movie fails to interestingly grapple with the results of a pretty good set-up.From the start of the film, the chemistry between Diana and David is palpable and fun. They're both warm and attractive***, and they have an ease with each other that I found successful in creating a couple to root for. I mean, yeah, the voiceovers and the John Barry soundtrack**** are cheesy as hell, but I bought it.

Blah blah blah, I'm really boring, but I've got a great smile, and I wear suits.
The downfall, ultimately, goes to the casting of Robert Redford as John Gage. Yes, he's an empirically attractive man, but he doesn't have any extra charisma that convinces me that he would be able to seduce a woman so happily married (see also: The Horse Whisperer, although at least that woman was unhappily married). I found him an easy obstacle from the get-go, so David's anger and Diana's wavering ultimately seem trifling. For a movie that offers such a juicy "what if" scenario, it fails to deliver in delicious results. Instead, we're left with a good first act, a middling second act, and an inevitable and boring third act.

Before everything goes wrong.
However, Woody Harrelsonson's open demeanor and Demi Moore's natural charisma save the film from becoming a complete failure, proving that if you're going to make an erotic drama, you might as well cast sexy and capable actors to make the film worth the watch.

*Side bar: they have the cutest house ever, and I kind of want it:
Awesome garden.
Americana and daylight in the living room.
Comfortable and quaint bedroom.
Cool windows and shades in the well lit kitchen. (Also, great look, Woody, with the rolled-up sleeves and a henley underneath: I cannot resist that combination.)
**How is this movie not being remade RIGHT NOW? Quick: who would you cast?
***We need to talk about how stunning Demi Moore looks in this movie. She barely looks like she has a stitch of make-up on the whole film beyond lipstick, and she still looks like perfection.
****Did I mention that Seal and Sade also make aural appearances during opportune moments?

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