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Category:    Home > Reviews > Thriller > Drama > Fatal Attraction (1987) + Indecent Proposal (1993/Paramount Blu-rays)

Fatal Attraction (1987) + Indecent Proposal (1993/Paramount Blu-rays)


Picture: B-     Sound: B/B-     Extras: B-/C     Films: B/C



Adrian Lyne was expected to become the next big thing in directing at one time and was on the A-list for a time, but that time has long past.  After moderate notices with Foxes in 1980, eh shrewdly jumped on the Music Video bandwagon with the hits Flashdance (1983) and 9½ Weeks (1986) telling people that all films would look like those in the future.  Then he decided to combine those approaches with more narration and an ever-increasing Stanley Kubrick influence.  This resulted in two hits, Fatal Attraction (1987) and Indecent Proposal (1993), but things burned out quickly soon after.


James Dearden wrote Fatal Attraction borrowing heavily from Clint Eastwood’s first directing feature film job, Play Misty For Me (1971), but it was not a word-for-word rip-off, but a shrewd take-off that pushed the ideas into new territory and both were still firmly in the shadow of Alfred Hitchcock.  The tale of an extra-marital affair gone badly wrong was first issued by Paramount in limited release and with the expectations that it might be a critical hit if nothing else.  Then buzz developed and the company had a surprise blockbuster on its hands, resulting in a wide release and all the controversy that followed.


Douglas plays Dan Gallagher, a happily married man with a beautiful daughter, great wife (Anne Archer) and great job.  He is happy, yet when he meets a book editor named Alex Forrest (Glenn Close in one of her greatest performances), the two become too interested in each other and have impulse sex.  He enjoys it as much has her, but when he wants to break away, she just cannot let go and he tries to reason with her.  Unfortunately, she turns out to be psychotic and all hell breaks loose.


Controversy on the film included accusations it was woman hating in the way it portrayed Close’s Forrest, yet that far left PC reactionary shortcut in thinking ignores the many issues this brought up.  How guilty was Dan?  Isn’t it his wife’s business too?  Is there a point when lives are at stake that who is guilty of something becomes secondary until said crisis is resolved?  No one was married in the Eastwood film, so it does become a different ballgame despite some similarities.  It also shows Lyne and Darden exploiting the limits of a lack of female point-of-view (and minority point-of-view for that matter) in Hollywood narrative that has only somewhat shifted since then.  The film had hit a never over how unsafe suburbia (and for that matter, the world according to safe Spielberg films) and its sexual angles are still potent all these years later.  The acting is also top notch and it is the best film Lyne will ever make.


After having mixed success with Jacob’s Ladder, Lyne’s 1990 entry into the Vietnam cycle, eh tried going back to Fatal territory with Indecent Proposal, where a somewhat happily married couple (Woody Harrelson, Demi Moore) meet a billionaire (Robert Redford) who offers the couple a million dollars if he can sleep with her.  Unfortunately, the idea was silly and the film even sillier, becoming almost a camp classic and one that has not aged well one bit.  The film says nothing, shows nothing and is just a gimmicky attempt to have another Fatal type hit, but it is a bore and proved Lyne’s promise as a hitmaker was over.  He even followed up with an explicit Kubrickian project by remaking Lolita in 1997, but it was a big budgeted, overproduced mess and Unfaithful (2002) was yet another repetitive dud.  Stick with Fatal and only watch Proposal for unintended laughs.



The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on both films fare about the same, with Fatal looking poor and nowhere near as good as 35mm prints of the time.  Almost as bad as Never Say Never Again, the print looks like the outside light is overcast all the time, which shows a print that was fading was used.  There is also edge enhancement and other tamperings that make this look like one of Paramount’s first-ever HD masters and a bad one at that.  Proposal has other softness and depth issues more common with older HD masters, but that does not make it any better.


The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix on both films disappoint, but Fatal has some good sonic points, while Proposal has a bad mix that sticks too much of the audio in the center channel.  What happened?  I don’t know, but Fatal especially deserves better al the way to Maurice Jarre’s underrated score.  Extras on both discs offer feature length audio commentary by Lyne, which is worth hearing after you watch the films, plus Fatal also features the featurettes Forever Fatal, Social Attraction, Visual Attraction, rehearsal footage, the original theatrical trailer and the original ending (which I thought never worked) with an into by Lyne.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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