A billionaire offers a recently unemployed acrchitect 1 million pounds to sleep with his wife. What will the couple choose.
Demi loves Woody. Woody loves Demi. The dog loves them both, and all is well in their comfy Californian lives until, in a spectacularly 90s-style plot development, the recession strikes and they get booted from their gainful employment as an architect (him) and estate agent (her). So, it's — rather unwisely — off to Las Vegas to try and raise the readies to fulfil that dream of a self-designed pad on the beach, or at least to keep body and soul together till the boom years return.
Just 15 minutes into Indecent Proposal, and things are not looking good. There have been unintentional chuckles courtesy of a silly flashback to school days (Demi's grin revealing a gobful of dental braces, Woody with a rug from hell); there have been the obligatory "steamy" sex scenes — lots of shots of a tanned Demi in little white knickers — to illustrate just how much they damn well fancy each other ; and there has been much gnashing of teeth as the horrors of unemployment dawn.
Once our billionaire gambler (Redford) comes on to the scene with his "indecent proposal" (one million dollars for a night with Demi), however, things brighten up considerably, with the complex emotions on display being handled with remarkable aplomb. Forget the carping that the hunksome Redford would never, in reality, have to pay for a woman. This is all about power and he plays the game brilliantly, driving a wedge between the lovebirds as they decide to go for the deal ("It's just my body, it's not my heart, it's not my mind") and then watch their supposedly invincible marriage buckle under the strain. Indeed, it is in this mid-section that the cast, director Adrian Lyne and screenwriter Amy Holden Jones conspire to present some seriously interesting emotional shenanigans, with what happened that night remaining a mystery to both the audience and hubby, and the subsequent jealousies and power struggles ringing entirely true.
Redford, as you'd expect, is brilliant as the scheming-yet-strangely-vulnerable rich git (and one cannot help but ponder that as a millionaire divorcee living on his own in Utah, Redford must have unusual insights into this character), Moore is beautiful enough to carry off the central plot point, and even Harrelson displays something other than his usually dim berk persona by successfully playing a sensitive thinking type in little round glasses.
Sadly, of course, the quality control doesn't last, with the tension gradually slipping away until we find ourselves, in the final, risible scene, back in unintentional chuckle territory. At times ridiculously corny, often strangely compelling, and never less than entertaining, this may lose its bottle towards the end, but at least it had some bottle to start with.
The performances are alright enough but the casting was a bizarre choice and it's just not strong enough to carry the premise.