While this film has been slotted into the “noir” category, it has one thing that sets it quite a bit apart from most movies in that genre: instead of being told from the perspective of the man who gets manipulated by the femme fatale, it’s the femme fatale who is the main character. We see things from her perspective.
Bridget Gregory (Fiorentino) steals $700,000 from her husband Clay (Bill Pullman), who is a big time drug dealer. She hits the road and ends up in small town
. The guys in the bar she starts to frequent there have never seen anything like her. She’s the one with all the power and they only get as far with her as she feels like letting them get. She meets Mike (Peter Berg) and for reasons unfathomable at first, she seems to take a liking to him. She decides to stay in town and gets an office job at the company Mike works for. USA
In the meantime Clay didn’t just shrug his shoulders when his wife took off with a large sum of money, which as it turns out, wasn’t even his. The man whose money it actually was makes Clay understand that he’d really better get it back. Clay hires a private detective and we can’t tell if Clay’s more desperate to find Bridget so he can get the money back, or so he can exact the worst revenge imaginably once he gets his hands on her.
The office job Bridget is at doesn’t hold her interest for long. She is soon running a scam involving Mike and we finally start to understand what she sees in him – he’s really dumb. Soon Mike is in way over his head, and Clay is starting to close in on both of them. Can Mike stop Clay? What would happen if Clay and Mike were to meet and instead of killing each other, they compared notes?
Linda Fiorentino gives a powerful performance in this film. She is the main reason to see it. Her character is fearless and she is easily in control of most situations she is in. (Note that I wrote “most”.) There was a lot of Oscar buzz surrounding her performance. She seemed like a lock to at least get a nomination, and maybe even a win. It was at that point that the Academy stepped in and declared her ineligible to be nominated for Best Actress.
It turns out that this movie was first shown at film festivals, but could not find an official distribution deal. An agreement with HBO had already been signed and it said that the movie would be broadcast on a certain date, regardless of whether the film had found a distributor or not. The deadline came and HBO aired the movie. It got immediate strong buzz and the movie was quickly snapped up by a studio. It was then released wide into theaters. Unfortunately, the Academy declared that the film festivals didn’t count in regards to the movie being shown first in theaters. That meant its first showing, according to the Academy anyway, was on HBO. Since movies that are broadcast first don’t qualify for Oscars, this meant that Fiorentino was similarly ineligible.
The studio tried to appeal Fiorentino’s case, but the Academy held firm. Movies that are self-distributed and show in a single theater (like The Room) are completely eligible for Oscars, but movies that compete at various film festivals without being distributed are not. By the way, the Oscar for Best Actress that year ended up going to Jessica Lange for Blue Sky – a movie that had been filmed three years earlier, then shelved, then finally given a very limited release in theaters before being shown on cable.
If you’ve ever wanted to see a noir from the perspective of the tough femme fatale, then The Last Seduction is the film for you. While the lead character is not necessarily likable, she is still very interesting to watch. I highly recommend this film.
Chip’s Rating: 4 out of 5 stars