XL Popcorn – The Last Seduction

List Item: Watch all of the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”
Progress: 850/1007Title: The Last Seduction
Director: John Dahl
Year: 1994
Country: USA

HBO really screwed things up with this film. Granted the Oscars have always been a bit previous about their eligibility rules, but The Last Seduction is one of those movies that makes you question the rigidity of policy. The sticking point was that, before release in cinemas, The Last Seduction first played on HBO – so was considered ineligible. It’s a rule built around snobbery, but left this film in a strange award season limbo.

If the release of this had been handled differently, Linda Fiorentino would have got an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. Hell, there would be a chance of her winning the award if that wasn’t the year they decided to give the award to Jessica Lange as a consolation prize for a film that has faded into obscurity. Fiorentino’s performance as this dry-witted, erotically-charged sociopath is a thing of beauty. I only really knew her from Men in Black before this and I am devastated that her acting career just flopped because of her being ‘difficult’. Utterly atrocious.

The Last Seduction is one of those films that shows you just how a neo-noir should be done. It didn’t rely on being close to a remake (like Body Heat with Double Indemnity) and it doesn’t shy too much away from being more modern where it needs. It plays with the noir tropes whilst giving careful nods to the films of the genre that game before.

The main character being the ‘femme fatale’, rather than the man who has succumb to her, is a very different take and means that you are party to her plots rather than uncovering them at the same time as the man. This makes for a different sort of tension as you watch her turn the screw and drop her act the moment her ‘mark’ is out of the room. It’s such a different perspective that helps the film to stand out.

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