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Film / The Last Seduction

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"Anyone check you for a heartbeat recently?"
Frank Griffith

A 1994 neo-Noir film directed by John Dahl, The Last Seduction stars Linda Fiorentino, Peter Berg, and Bill Pullman. It’s perhaps best known for being disqualified from Academy Award consideration that year due to airing on HBO just before it premiered in theaters.

Bridget Gregory (Fiorentino) is the manager of a direct marketing call center; she is also married to Clay (Pullman), a medical student. Clay is so smitten with her that, at her suggestion, he illegally sells pharmaceutical painkillers for a bag of cash. Then Clay makes a big mistake; in the emotional aftermath of his first crime, he slaps Bridget. She coolly steals the cash and skips town. Stopping in a small town for a drink, she meets Mike Swale (Berg), a divorced man who immediately falls for her. When Clay sends goons to track down his wife and stolen cash, Bridget decides to use Mike in an elaborate scheme to get her past off her back.


This film features examples of:

  • All Guys Want Cheerleaders: A deleted scene has Bridget dressing up as a cheerleader for Mike.
  • Amoral Attorney: Bridget's lawyer, played by J.T. Walsh.
  • Asshole Victim: Clay's abusiveness moves most viewers to root for least a little. Bridget also uses this justification to draw Mike further into her scheme.
  • Berserk Button: For Mike, what pushes him over the edge in the final scene is Bridget mocking him for his marriage to Trish; it turns out that she is a trans woman.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Harlan is the first character to die.
  • Black Is Bigger in Bed: Bridget brilliantly invokes this to her husband's (black) private investigator Harlan to distract him while she's driving the car they're in. She brings it up and laughingly asks him to "show her his". When he sensibly refuses, he implies the reason he won't is because the opposite is true in his case. He eventually lets his male ego get the better of him and gives in, taking off his seatbelt to do so. This results in his death when she intentionally crashes the car.
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  • Brooklyn Rage: Clay comments that his locally-hired detective won't get rough with Bridget; he needs a New Yorker for that.
  • Establishing Character Moment: For Bridget at her first job, She likes to command and she is foul-mouthed.
  • The City vs. the Country: This trope is invoked here numerous times and in the end played completely straight. In the small town people are indeed more wholesome than in New York. Once it is even said that a detective from New York can be violent for the benefit of his client while a local detective can only follow someone but would never hurt anyone.
  • Chekhov's Gun: This time it is mace. First it is shown when Bridget directs it at Harlan. Later she uses it to murder Clay.
  • Clueless Detective: In contrast to Harlan, Bert, the above-mentioned local detective, is only comic relief.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Bridget, particularly when she’s around Mike.
    • Clay also. When Mike comes to rob him, using dialogue (suggested by Bridget) that he memorised in advance, Clay snarks, "Did you read a book on this?"
  • Deconstructed Trope: As the title implies, the film was intended to be this for the typical Film Noir Femme Fatale plot, illustrating just how heartless a woman would have to be to seduce a man into murdering a complete stranger, and how dumb the man would have to be to actually fall for it.
  • Defective Detective: Harlan is or rather, was one of these; apparently, with serious issues regarding certain racial & sexual stereotypes (see above).
  • Delicious Distraction: The small-town PI that Clay hires after the spectacular failure of his first detective accepts a plate of fresh-baked cookies from Bridget while he's supposed to be doing surveillance on her. Given that it's Bridget, he's lucky he only winds up with a flat tire.
  • Domestic Abuse: Downplayed. Clay slaps Bridget when she taunts him, but feels sorry soon after. Bridget, however, harbors a huge grudge.
  • Don't Ask: Mike's reaction whenever his failed marriage (see above) come up; since Mike is constantly pressing Bridget to talk about serious things and get closer emotionally, this tips her off that this is something big she can use against him.
  • Fanservice: Linda Fiorentino does several nude scenes.
  • Femme Fatale: A Deconstructed Character Archetype with Bridget (see above).
  • Film Noir: One of the most famous 90s neo noirs.
  • Frame-Up: First, a minor example, when Bridget reports Clay's PI to the police as a stalker. Then, the big one: in the final sequence, she sets up Mike.
  • Friends with Benefits: Bridget implies to Mike that they should be this. That's before she thinks about some sinister plans involving Mike.
  • Karma Houdini: By the last scene, life without parole is the absolute best Mike, busted for murder and rape, can hope for, while Bridget gets off scot-free — and, apparently, independently wealthy to boot.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Mike and his friends come across this way.
  • Just One Little Mistake: Subverted when the imprisoned Mike realizes that Bridget made one mistake in her master plan involving a name tag on a mailbox. The film ends with Bridget slipping the tag out of the mailbox and driving off in a very pricey car.
  • The Last Title: The title.
  • Line-of-Sight Alias: Played With. Bridget comes up with her Sdrawkcab Alias herself, but Clay figures it out after an accidental glance at a poster of New York in the mirror. (New York = Wendy Kroy backwards.)
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places: Mike and Bridget have sex in a car and against the wire fence outside a bar. Deleted scenes show them doing it on the floor and in a school gym they broke into.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Bridget will stop at nothing to escape Clay, and then have her revenge on him, and then get away with it. Even to the point of premeditated murder, in the process ruining the life of someone whose biggest fault is being incredibly naive — Mike.
  • Miscarriage of Justice: The ending implies that Mike will spend the rest of his life in prison for Bridget's crimes.
  • No Seat Belts: Harlan doesn't click it; if only he'd just gotten a ticket.
  • Only Bad Guys Call Their Lawyers: Bridget calls a lawyer to find out how she can get can spend her ill-gotten gains without her husband laying claim to any of it.
  • Phone-Trace Race: Performed by Clay and Harlan when Bridget calls.
  • Prone to Tears: Bridget convincingly fakes this in the hospital after her car crash, when police inquire as to why her late passenger was in a very embarrassing state of attire.
  • Sdrawkcab Alias: Wendy Kroy.
  • The Sociopath: Bridget could be a textbook case study. She lies, manipulates, and discards others for her own gain; expresses no remorse for any of her actions (including at least two murders); brilliantly fakes a galaxy of emotions, while sincerely feeling nothing except greed and the desire for revenge; and the only time she ever discusses morality she seems to regard it as some alien concept.
  • Stepford Suburbia: Bridget stays in one of these when she's on the run. She feels there like a fish in the water.
  • Stupid Good: Mike embodies this to a great extent, especially the bit about not understanding evil in others.
  • The Unfair Sex: Completely and utterly averted.
  • Tap on the Head: Played with as Clay is hit twice on his head with a gun but does not lose his conscience.
  • Unsettling Gender Reveal: Mike used to live in Buffalo for a while, and even got married, but he ran away on their wedding night because his blushing bride turned out to be a pre-operative trans woman.
  • The Vamp: Bridget to the nth degree.
  • Villain Protagonist: Bridget is, as noted throughout, a vamp, a femme fatale, and a (relatively) high-functioning sociopath — but she's so damned good at it.
  • Where da White Women At?: Initially defied by Harlan when Bridget tries to seduce him by asking him if "the rumors" are true. He blows her off at first, commenting that white women are too skinny in the hips department. She does manage to eventually get a rise out of him with "I'll show you mine if you show me yours," which she then uses to permanently dispose of him.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Bridget pulls this first at the hospital with the cop and then in the final scene to put the rap on Mike.


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