Intensities in Ten Suburbs

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Popcorn Love: Linda Fiorentino in The Last Seduction (1994)

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on January 28, 2007

And when you smile for the camera, I know I love you better

I caught the first half-hour or so of The Last Seduction on IFC last night and I was reminded of what a modern classic it is. It’s a neo-noir, sure–stolen drug money, private detectives, immoral get-rich-quick schemes, murder, betrayal, lots of cigarettes, etc. However, the movie stands apart from other great neos like L.A. Confidential or even The Ice Harvest or Brick through one quality–the simultaneous protagonist and antagonist Bridget Gregory (a.k.a. Wendy Kroy), played with malevolent gusto by the fiery Linda Fiorentino.

Reductive film archetyping would tend to label Bridget as a femme fatale, and fatale she most certainly is, dispassionately setting up and then disposing of the men in her life like she was checking off items at a grocery list. However, to put Bridget in a class with Brigid O’Shaugnessy and Evelyn Mulwray would probably be something she’d find incredibly insulting–those femmes were often a step ahead and occasionally even on the whole brighter than the men in their life, but the male protagonists always caught up eventually, and when they did, it was curtains for the dame. In The Last Seduction, not only is Bridget smarter than the men, she’s faster, deadlier, and really just all-around better than them–even when ex-husband Clay (Bill Pullman) and new beau, homme timide Mike (Peter Berg) manage to put two and two together and figure out what Bridget is up to, it just forces her to alter her plan and improvise a little, unfazed and still utterly in control of the situation. From the moment Bridget casually steals 700k from her husband while he’s taking a shower, you know that no one ever has a chance of putting this woman in her place.

And Fiorentino–YEOWCH. Anyone my age wondering how that random chick in her 30s somehow got cast as the female lead of Men in Black or Dogma just needs to watch one scene of this movie, and they’ll probably be sold enough to go back and watch MIB again to see if they had missed something. With her husky voice, unimpressed disposition and sophisticated demeanor, clearly this was the part Fiorentino was born to play, and she nails it with stunning precision. Watch her unthinkingly put out a cigarette in Mike’s leftover pie (right next to a loving note from Grandma), or slam the roof of his car during sex and responding to his comment about trying to determine whether or not she’s a total bitch by exclaiming “I AM A TOTAL…FUCKING…BITCH!!” She’s a complete rock star, the missing link between Barbara Stanwyck and Shannon Doherty, and she makes you wonder just how hot and awesome Rita Hayworth could’ve been were she allowed to curse and fuck (and get away with murder) on screen. It’s the perfect synergy of actress and character, and Fiorentino would never be nearly this hot again.

(Also great–the always reliable J.T. Walsh as Frank, Bridget’s equally unscrupulous lawyer friend. His regular banters with her provide some of the high points of the movie)


5 Responses to “Popcorn Love: Linda Fiorentino in The Last Seduction (1994)”

  1. I’ve wanted to see this for a while; now I need to see it.

    Loved Brick, by the way.

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