The Last Seduction (Filmmakers Collection) (1993)

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Released 3-Mar-2008

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Erotic Thriller Featurette-Art of Seduction:(30 min) Excellent with dr/wr/stars 16x9.
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-(8:30 mins) On set, behind the cameras, cast & crew 4x3.
Theatrical Trailer-01:39 mins 4x3.
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1993
Running Time 105:31
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (67:24) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By John Dahl
Studio
Distributor

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Linda Fiorentino
Peter Berg
Bill Pullman
J.T. Walsh
Bill Nunn
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $24.95 Music Joseph Vitarelli


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Auto Pan & Scan Encoded English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes, Social - bar scenes.
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Credits end just over 5 mins into film.

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

   

 "It's only in the last thirty years that we've had all these Hollywood movies where they desperately
     want you to fall in love with the main character. I mean, who in a Shakespearean play did you ever
     want to take home and have dinner with ?"  (John Dahl

    The first three films directed by John Dahl all involved a central female character absconding with a swag of money. First came Kill Me Again (1989), followed by Red Rock West (1993) and then The Last Seduction (1994), this last containing one of the most incredible female characters you will ever encounter on the screen. This is a thrilling, roller-coaster ride of a movie, and you never know which turn the ride is going to take. You may not even know which ride you are actually on, and sitting beside you  is the most fatal of femmes fatales.


    Bridget Gregory (Linda Fiorentino) is a New York telemarketing manager, a skill she will put to extraordinary use later in the film. Bridget has  persuaded her physician husband,  Clay (Bill Pullman), that easier money is to be made in illicit drug deals. After one extremely nervous transaction under a New York bridge (the Brooklyn or the Manhattan?), Clay returns home with the takings. After some domestic tension, and wife slapping, Clay takes a shower. Bridget takes the cash - and runs. Her car almost out of gas, she just makes it to a small mid-American town, Beston. After refuelling Bridget heads for the nearby bar where she encounters some local antagonism to "strangers". To her rescue comes Mike Swale (Peter Berg) who pays for her drink and attempts to make human contact with the remote Bridget, in the bar and later in bed. The next day Bridget contacts her New York attorney, Frank (J.T. Walsh) for legal advice and finds that her marital ties to Clay make it impossible for her to avoid his making legal claims on any property she acquires with the ill-gained cash. Clay is decidedly the fly in Bridget's ointment, and divorce is a lengthy and costly procedure. She finds a solution.


    To tell more of the ingenious and twisted, but frighteningly logical, plot would be a spoiler indeed. This is a superbly written film - plaudits to writer Steve Barancik. Do not let anyone even hint to you what is going on in Bridget's beautiful head. Bridget despises anyone who plays "by the rules", but Bridget is the only one who even knows what game is being played. This is a rare script - beautifully filmic and literary at the same time, a rare quality it shares with No Country For Old Men.


    Dahl and Barancik - obviously a tight collaboration from the bonus feature documentary - have created a 1990s film noir, with the genre turned on its head. Another analogy would be to see the genre as being mirror reversed, as in a reflection - an image that will mean more after you've seen the film. So many things are turned back to front, upside down, inside out.


    The convention of the voice-over noir narrator - think Bogart, Mitchum, Dick Powell -  is avoided by the makers, but our noir hero is definitely the sociopathic Bridget. The original intention was to have Mike as the noir hero/narrator, but Barancik decided to switch to the woman. So Fiorentino is the "man", the protagonist of the tale. In fact, each of the three main characters could have been the noir narrator. Comparing this film to MGM's 1946 classic The Postman Alway Rings Twice, directed by Tay Garnett, Fiorentino is the John Garfield character, and Peter Berg is Lana Turner. That leaves Bill Pullman to be the cuckolded Cecil Kellaway. But not quite! My advice would be not to try and guess where this tale is talking you, just go with it and be astonished.


    Dahl's direction and the performances of his three leads cannot be faulted. Linda Fiorentino won critics awards in London and New York for this role, but was ineligible for Oscar nomination because the film had been shown on cable TV prior to its delayed US theatrical release, that release coming only after European acclaim for the film. She is phenomenal. Aggressively sexy - she gives new meaning to sexual aggression - slinky, icily beautiful and without a single redeeming quality beneath that glossy exterior, Bridget is the ultimate sociopath. This must be the most evil female ever depicted on the screen and Fiorentino plays it magnificently and for real. This is no "camping it up" performance. Peter Berg, soon to be seen in Lions for Lambs, gives a multi-layered depiction of Mike, a man ostensibly simple but with secret dark complexities that only Bridget would tap. Their sex scenes totally sizzle. Bill Pullman is also first rate in his smaller role, giving a wise sardonic turn to his dialogue. This is an outstanding trio of performances. Excellent support also comes from J.T. Walsh and especially Bill Nunn as the "black man" investigator sent by Clay to innocent little Beston to check on his errant wife.


    Complementing the superb storytelling is first rate camera work by Jeffrey Jur, startling colour design and the exciting jazz combo score by Joseph Vitarelli. Starting lightly with a swinging Brubeck feel, the music changes mood with the on-screen twists and turns, becoming darker as we draw closer to the fatal denouement.


    This is a brilliant erotic thriller. Don't let anyone spoil it for you. See it and be left breathless.

Footnote: The artwork on the front and back of the disc's sleeve is framed. The front cover has a banner within the frame stating "John Dahl Filmmakers Collection", while the banner in the frame on the back cover says "Nicholas Roeg Filmmakers Collection". Also the three paragraph blurb on the back cover ends mid-sentence. Proof reader needed perhaps?

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Transfer Quality

Video

    We should be grateful to Umbrella for releasing this very fine disc of a largely unappreciated film.    

    The film is presented in an aspect of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. The original aspect ratio was 1.85:1.    

    The transfer is very clear and sharp. There are frequent night scenes and there is a loss of shadow detail in some of these scenes, though the black noir look is attractively conveyed.
    There was a general absence of low level noise.   

    The colour design of the film is quite striking, from the "prettiness" of the small town with its sunshine and lush greenery, so alien to Bridget, to the enveloping blacks of the dark evening scenes. Linda Fiorentino is always in black, with some white, and with her lustrous dark hair and slash of red lipstick she is visually striking. The transfer is rich and quite beautiful. This all looks extremely good in this transfer.     

    I was not aware of any MPEG artefacts, or film artefacts. There was only one slight hint of aliasing for a fraction of a second.

    There are no subtitles.
    The layer change occurs as 67:24 and is barely noticeable.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    This is a very aggressive soundtrack. I had to make initial adjustments to cut back on the surround speakers as the musical score totally swamped the centre channel to the extent of making dialogue almost inaudible. The same balance was present on the Dolby Digital 2.0 track. Once this initial balance adjustment was made everything was fine.    

    There are two audio tracks on this disc, English Dolby Digital 5.1 and English Dolby Digital 2.0.
    The Dolby Digital 2.0 was sampled, but the movie was viewed in its entirety with the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track.

    Dialogue was generally clear and easy to understand, although there were a few instances when a couple of words were "lost". This could have been the makers' intention. There was no trouble in comprehending what was going on in the scene. There were no sync problems.    

    The jazz score by  Joseph Vitarelli is outstanding. Initially pulsing with the beat of New York City, then aggressive and sinuous as it accompanies Bridget's twisted journey, with quiet melancholic interludes. This is a classic jazz score, somewhat reminiscent of the great jazz scores of the 50s. The reproduction is superb, with extensive use of channel separation. I usually think musical scores are too subdued, but not in this case. That initial level adjustment will have to be made - but still leave the music good and loud.  

    The surround channels are used very extensively for ambient sounds and effects, right from the opening telemarketing scene. There is a very nice sense of being aurally immersed in the entire experience.

    There are no obvious subwoofer "moments" in the film, although the bass of the musical score is magnificent.

    

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The extras are without frills and small in number, but high in quality. This is just the kind of little known film that we want to learn more about, and for once we get that information - and from the mouths of those actually involved.

Menu

    The Main Menu is 16x9 enhanced displayed over a still from the film, with audio from the jazz soundtrack in Dolby Digital 2.0.
    The Main Menu options are : Play Film
                                                 Scene Index : 12 scenes over stills, with no audio and no thumbnails.
                                                 Special Features : See details below.

Featurette: The Art of Seduction : (29:01)
    This is a very interesting documentary presented 1.78:1 and 16x9 enhanced with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, using talking heads all closely associated with the making of the film. We see and hear director John Dahl, writer Steve Barancik and stars Linda Fiorentino, Peter Berg and Bill Pullman. This gives real insight into the trials and tribulations of making something "different" within the Hollywood system. The 2006 footage is excellent quality, while interview material from the time of production is grainy and "blown up", but excellent stuff.

Featurette : Behind the Scenes : (08:30)
    This is a "behind the camera" look at filming four scenes from the film. At the start there is a warning apology for the audio quality of the film dialogue, but it is fine. It is a fascinating glimpse of stars and director actually working on set, surrounded by working technicians, set dressers and lighting guys . Interesting to see the original title, Buffalo Girls, written on a clapper board.

Theatrical Trailer : (01:39)
Grainy but not too bad, not 16x9 but Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.

 

 

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 release by Umbrella of  The Last Seduction has more to offer than the Region 1 release by Artisan.
    The Region 1 disc has no extras at all - not even a trailer - and is a 4x3 full screen transfer with 2.0 Digital Stereo.

Summary

    If you enjoy an erotic mystery thriller with a brilliant script, excellent performances and an amoral female character with a jaw-dropping approach to sex, this one's for you. It is shocking and steamy. The disc looks and sounds great - but remember the sound balance adjustment - with a truly exciting musical soundtrack. There is a small, but valuable, cluster of extras that round this off as an excellent release. Congratulations to Umbrella.
    

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Garry Armstrong (BioGarry)
Monday, April 21, 2008
Review Equipment
DVDOnkyo-SP500, using Component output
DisplayPhilips Plasma 42FD9954/69c. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS777
SpeakersVAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
UK Special Edition 2 Disc Version - RichardP