This well-paced, cleverly written and quite diabolical thriller is director John Dahl's classy follow-up to last year's generally well-received "Red Rock West." Linda Fiorentino toplines as one of the screen's most formidable femmes fatales ever in a sexy and polished performance.

This well-paced, cleverly written and quite diabolical thriller is director John Dahl’s classy follow-up to last year’s generally well-received “Red Rock West.” Linda Fiorentino toplines as one of the screen’s most formidable femmes fatales ever in a sexy and polished performance. With proper handling and critical attention, word-of-mouth should make this a seductive attraction.

The film is utterly amoral and centers upon a totally ruthless and self-centered woman who single-mindedly manipulates for her own ends everyone unlucky enough to cross her path.

Bridget Gregory (Fiorentino) is an intelligent N.Y. insurance exec who has conned her medic husband, Clay (Bill Pullman), into doing a dangerous but lucrative drug deal. In a cleverly structured opening sequence, the foul-mouthed Bridget bullies her underlings at the office while the nervous Clay faces a couple of unstable hoods for the drug transaction.

Bridget rewards him by simply ankling with the money, heading for Chicago. Along the way she stops at a one-horse town for fuel and sexual replenishment. Latter comes from the bruised Mike (Peter Berg), whom she picks up in a bar (her direct approach to the subject of sex is something of an eye-opener).

When her lawyer (J.T. Walsh) advises her that Clay has heavyweight muscle on her trail, she decides to lie low in the town, takes an assumed name, and immediately manages (in the only contrived bit of plotting in an otherwise top screenplay) to get an exec position in a local insurance company. She keeps dating the now besotted Mike, who is increasingly frustrated at being treated merely as a sex object.

When a private eye (Bill Nunn) tracks her down, she’s able to dispose of him without too much bother, but realizes Clay must be dealt with permanently. She plots to involve Mike in Clay’s murder without him being aware who the victim is; writer Steve Barancik’s development of the narrative here is very skillful and original.

Dahl keeps his direction relatively simple this time around; he has good material and a top cast, and knows it. Pacing is on the button, and the film moves inexorably, without any flat moments, toward the suspenseful, if morally indefensible, finale.

Fiorentino is quite wonderful as the diabolical Bridget, who uses her beauty and her body to get what she wants without qualms. Sex scenes are moderately steamy. Peter Berg is well cast as the patsy, and Bill Pullman is quite touching as the husband who is no match for his ruthless wife.

“The Last Seduction” has a professional gloss, and should quickly earn itself a reputation as a top-class thriller and be a solid earner for ITC, in the process adding to the reputations of all involved.

The Last Seduction

Production

An ITC Entertainment Group presentation. Produced by Jonathan Shestack. Co-producer, Nancy Rae Stone. Directed by John Dahl. Screenplay, Steve Barancik.

Crew

Camera (CFI color), Jeffrey Jur; editor, Eric L. Beason; music, Joseph Vitarelli; production design, Linda Pearl; costume design, Terry Dresbach; sound (Ultra-Stereo), Mark Deren; assistant director, Eric N. Heffron. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Panorama), Feb. 18, 1994. (Also in Palm Springs Film Festival.) Running time: 109 min.

With

Bridget Gregory - Linda Fiorentino Mike Swale - Peter Berg Clay Gregory - Bill Pullman Frank Griffith - J.T. Walsh Harlan - Bill Nunn Bob Trotter - Herb Mitchell Chris - Brien Varady Shep - Dean Norris Stacy - Donna Wilson
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