Could be seen as a moral dilemma ending with the wrong decision, could also be seen as getting away with cheating. Indecent Proposal is authorised infidelity, totally legit and without consequences. Things will very soon go back to normal, but only after everyone has done at least something that they can later regret. Adrian Lyne’s film poses a question and starts a never-ending discussion regarding the choice between money and integrity. The only problem being that when the money option is offered by Robert Redford, integrity becomes a rather unattractive way forward.
The title is all one needs to know before deciding to watch this film, for the very simple reason that it completely describes the plot, gets the movie’s message across and carries the weight of an extensive synopsis. Indecent Proposal is just that: A one-night stand offer to a married woman by a rich man, for a large amount of money. Of course some details make it slightly more decent – the couple struggling with money and losing their home, the wealthy man being Robert Redford, the woman being a very sexy Demi Moore and Woody Harrelson not doing so much to stop this from happening anyway.
Yes, the proposal is considered indecent right from the get-go, but there is no doubt that a lot is done to grant this offer at least a little bit of morality. Although it’s handled as wrong, it’s not unacceptable. Although it shouldn’t be done, it looks like it will, gladly.
At the same time, it all feels romantic, tender, passionate and moving. The love that Woody Harrelson and Demi Moore’s characters share is deep, feels real and goes a long way back. But time comes in the way and money problems, together with someone new, attractive, sexy and attentive, who is also offering a way out of them, follow. Indeed, some reasoning can be found even in the most immoral dilemmas, and this is just one of those cases.
All this is very beautifully conveyed through Adrian Lyne’s direction. He marries wrong with right convincingly time and time again in Indecent Proposal, so often, that sometimes you forget whose side you’re on. It’s one of those films where the woman will justify the woman and the man probably one of the two men, if not both. However, the romantic picture that the director has painted and in which all this right-vs-wrong discussion is carried out, makes all mistakes acceptable, forgivable and the mess that has been caused because of them, less infuriating, hurtful and frustrating.
The script signs Amy Holden Jones, adapting Jack Engelhard’s novel. The story doesn’t lose any of its realism, directness and appeal when put on screen. Jones’ dialogue is sincere but still affectionate and her scripted characters are just as troubled, confused, in-need and discouraged as Engelhard’s. In bringing these emotions to life and putting a face to the problems helps greatly the fact that the cast consists of three particularly skillful actors. To add to this, there is a lot of visually intriguing confusion and frustration to come from the constant battle between right and wrong and a great deal of arousing debate to be brought on by the timeless question that Adrian Lyne’s Indecent Proposal puts forward.