_ Fatale attraction
Master of the modern film noir, director John Dahl tells Anwar Brett about his latest movie, The Last Seduction.
A long way from contemporary Hollywood‘s sanitised and cosy thrillers — where all the loose ends are tied up and everyone lives happily ever after - a few independent movies stand out as much more real. much more credible. much more nasty. In recent years. some of the best of these have been directed by John Dahl. in conjunction with his screenwriter brother Rick. starting with the deliciously noirish Kill Me Again. and following it up with the cool and downbeat Red Rock West. And now there is The Last Seduction.
‘Bridget poses this massive moral dilemma. I remember the first time I read the script, I couldn’t believe she was getting away with all this stuff. I just wanted her to get run over by a garbage truck.’
‘l think our backers felt this movie was just another sexy thriller,‘ says John Dahl of his latest work, ‘but l always saw it not so much as that as the story of a woman who used sex to get her own way in life.‘ Thoroughly ﬁlm noir. in other words. in its development of the femrne fatale.
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The ﬁltn focuses on the deliciously amoral Bridget Gregory (wonderfully played by Linda Fiorentino). who will stop at nothing to take what she wants. And ifyou‘re the man standing between her and her avaricious goals. then you‘d be wise to keep your trousers on and get out of her way. Husband Clay (Bill Pullman) experiences her treachery when she runs off with the drug money he raised at her urging. And, while laying low in the slow and easy town of Beston. Mike (Peter Berg) is the poor sap who has fallen under her spell to the extent that there's nothing he wouldn’t do for her.
‘I thought that Bridget was a prime role for any actress.’ Dahl continues. ‘ln the United States. there are a lot of people who are like her. There are people who are going to see the movie. identify with her. and want to bejust like her. I must admit I ﬁnd that kind of frightening. For the rest of us. Bridget poses this massive moral dilemma. I
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remember the ﬁrst time I read the script [written not by Dahl, but by first-timer Steve Barancik] I couldn‘t believe she was getting away with all this stuff. I just wanted her to get run over by a garbage truck.‘
‘There are some pretty dicey things in the story. This is definitely not your mainstream movie, I guess.’
Yet in spite ofthe edge-of—the-seat tension and sudden twists that Dahl gleefully brings out of the story. he sees The Last Seduction as just as much a black comedy as a straight thriller. ‘There are some pretty dicey things in the story,‘ he laughs, like a man who is amazed to have gotten away with them. ‘This is deﬁnitely not your mainstream movie, 1 guess. I loved the absurdity of it, and it still son of strikes me as funny even now. The script itself is pretty
much the same as when i ﬁrst read it. other than a few adjustments of tone. in the end. there were even a couple of scenes that had to be taken out because the ﬁlm was too long. In one. Bridget seduces Mike in his old High School gymnasium. Another time. she takes him home. handcuffs him to the bed. seduces him and leaves him there for a day. They were great scenes. but we were just trying to move the story along so we had to lose them and live without them.‘
Next up for Dahl was supposed to be a slight departure from the ﬁlm noir style that he is rapidly making his own. but the ﬁnancing fell through. so it‘s back to what he knows best. ‘l'm back in the murder business with my next ﬁlm,‘ he concedes. ‘lt‘s nothing to do with Bridget Gregory. but in time. who knows? lfanybody wanted to do another ﬁlm with her. l‘d love to do it too. She's quite a woman.‘
The Last Seduction opens at the Edinburgh Cameo on Fri 5 and the Glasgow Film Theatre on Friday I 9. A special free preview for List readers takes place at the (.‘anieo on Sat 30 Jul)" at 11.30am — just take along this issue to the box ofﬁce.
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The List 29 July—ll August 1994 23