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This is an educational, as for behaviour of female sociopath, 1994 movie depicting a female sociopath, starring Linda Fiorentino, Peter Berg, Bill Pullman. Director John Dahl presents modern Film-Noir. The movie is rated 7.1 at IMDb. Florentno is amazing in this movie and being a very bright person herself helped her in this role.
Starring Bridget Gregory - Linda Fiorentino; Mike Swale - Peter Berg; Clay Gregory - Bill Pullman; Frank Griffith -- J. T. Walsh
Linda Fiorentino provided us with an impressive, unforgettable depiction of a ruthless (and somewhat reckless, a thrill-seeker of sorts) female sociopath, delivering an iconic portrayal of a manipulative, destructive and selfish woman. She really must be seen. In this capacity she joins the ranks of:
The main heroine, Bridget Gregory is able to quickly discover a person weaknesses and then ruthlessly exploits them with unremitting amorality using clever, sometime deviously clever set-ups. As the same time while tactically brilliant, she has no foresight to come up with a viable strategic plan. Her very direct approach to the subject of sex is has some psychopathic attraction. Hapless patsy Peter Berg, whom she picked at the bar, is increasingly frustrated at being treated merely as a sex object. But his character is not strong enough to match steel willed Bridget; also he loves her, which makes him vulnerable to manipulation. While Bridget uses her beauty and her body as currency to get what she wants without qualms. From NYT review:
It takes about five minutes for Mr. Dahl to establish Bridget's breathtaking ruthlessness, as she robs her husband Clay (Bill Pullman) of the proceeds from a drug deal. Maybe she does this because Clay treated her a little badly, and maybe she's just ready for new scenery. Anyway, Bridget takes the money and leaves New York City, winding up in Beston, a friendly little town near Buffalo. No one in Beston has ever seen anything like Bridget, and neither have you.
Both Mr. Dahl, who directs this film with stunning economy, and Ms. Fiorentino, whose performance is flawlessly hard-boiled, exult in the sheer wickedness of Bridget's character. What make this easy to do are Bridget's stony seductiveness and her spellbinding talent for getting exactly what she wants. For instance, she soon appropriates Mike Swale (Peter Berg), a naive Beston resident who's wowed by Bridget's drop-dead sophistication. Their meeting alone, with Bridget unceremoniously unzipping Mike's pants in a crowded barroom, is guaranteed to make every man in the audience squirm. And wonder what's next.
Bridget, now using the name Wendy, lures Mike into one-half of an intense affair. (She herself remains maddeningly aloof.) Meanwhile, she puts down a few tentative roots in Beston, despite the fact that the neighbors' neighborliness is enough to make her cringe. She rents a house in suburbia (Mr. Dahl has great fun with that little contrast) and finds a job at the insurance company where Mike works. But she wants to keep their relationship a secret, so she slaps Mike when he tries talking to her at the office. "A woman loses 50 percent of her authority when people find out who she's sleeping with," Bridget declares.
There are way too many sex scenes. With some moderately steamy.
As one reviewer on iMDB noted "Her character Bridget Gregory is irresistibly stylish, cool, tough, intelligent, sexy, charming, and witty and her sheer attitude had critic Leonard Maltin observing that she "makes Stanwyck in Double Indemnity look like Snow White". " The movies also shows how devious female psychopaths can be in hatching their plans. Every ounce of her behaviour throughout motivated towards getting her own way. She is ruthless and doesn't know how to compromise, and at the same time those qualities are well hidden as she is very sexy and attractive, with the specific for sociopath type of charm (a unique mixture of seductiveness and charisma). She can be seductive - even when she walks. But sex for her is just an instrument, plus a way of obtaining some pleasure.
The scene ar the bar is pretty reveling. It is available from YouTube Linda Fiorentino The Last Seduction - YouTube
A good scene is the one in the office, when she wants to keep their relationship a secret, so she slaps Mike when he tries grouping her at the entrance to the insurance company office. And before that noting "A woman loses 50% of her authority when people find out who she's sleeping with," Bridget declares(39:00). This is the woman who can have quite risky sex with a guy behind the bar air conditioner unit (29:20). "You are my designed f*ck". And late "You are sex object... Live it up" (31:00). Or look at this dialog
Mike: "And screw you."
Bridget: Tomorrow night eight o'clock".
While late J.T. Walsh has a small part, he's instrumental at helping the audience see Bridget as "one of many", not some moral aberration. By being just as smart, sharp, hard and cavalier as Bridget, he gives the viewer a sense of the environment in which psychopath thrive and that environment provides them with a veneer of normality, supports and promotes them.
One educational scene is her interview for job "He actually beat you? Savagely" (23:40). And later bathroom scene "I work here now. Don't fuck with my image".
It blows away comparable movies like Body Heat and shocker flicks like Basic Instinct and Hand That Rocks the Cradle. The main character is excellent especially in her ability to understand her surroundings and how to manipulate them to her advantage. Her tact is subtle as is "iron fist in velvet glove". But she can become ferocious. If the situation warrants it
Linda Fiorentino played perhaps one of he most heartless woman that graced the screen. She is a complete egomaniac. And unlike the contrived 'happy endings' of most American movies, the main character Bridget Gregory, not only goes unpunished for her cruel and heartless behaviour, but is actually rewarded for her skill in manipulating the hapless men around her.
Fiorentino's portrayal of Bridget is so good that you can see the gears of manipulation turning behind every calculating look she casts around. She even control the sex encounters, dominated by her own perpetual thirst for selfish sex. While there's almost no standard bedroom scenes and most of the sex is of "the right-here, right-now" type, Bridget is clearly in control, emotionally and physically. she "makes Stanwyck in Double Indemnity look like Snow White".
Here are some quotes from reviews on iMDB site
... Her character Bridget Gregory is irresistibly stylish, cool, tough, intelligent, sexy, charming, and witty and her sheer attitude had critic Leonard Maltin observing that she "makes Stanwyck in Double Indemnity look like Snow White".
...This is the story of Bridget (Linda Fiorentino), a tall (5'7"), slender, throaty voiced brunette who cheats her husband (Bill Pullman) out of some drug money and runs for it. She heads to "cow country" where she hooks up with nice guy Mike (Peter Berg) and makes him her designated [BLEEP]. But when her husband comes knocking on her door intending to take back his money (and sends a series of guys after her) Bridget gets ready to kill him and set Mike up for the fall.
... ... ...
The dialogue sounds like it came from a 1940s noir (updated with swearing) but this isn't anything like those movies. This movie has graphic sex scenes and incredibly cruel acts that they could never get away with back then. It also has good acting by Berg and Pullman (who is very obviously enjoying himself). There's also good direction by John Dahl and an excellent score by Joseph Vitarelli which totally fits the tone of the film. But it's Fiorentino's show all the way--she's on screen almost all the time and her performance is superb. She's sexy and evil and actually enjoys using people--notice how she laughs after a few evil acts. Too bad this film premiered on cable--if it were a theatrical film first she would have been up for Best Actress.
... ... ....
Bridget is smart, manipulative, utterly ruthless and acting on the advice of someone who is not unfamiliar with all these attributes - J T Walsh plays her lawyer.
... ... ...
And what of these poor men? I found their shortcomings completely believable. A scary truth about men in general. Absolutely Bill Pullman's character would still want to be married to her even after all she put him through. He seems to get a sexual thrill in his attempts to track her down after she leaves him in the lurch. Absolutely the NY detective would feel obliged to prove to her that he is well endowed. Absolutely the basically decent rube could be talked into killing for her (well up to a point!). Men feel they have something to prove. Her husband needs to feel that he is still first in her heart.
Her rube boyfriend mistakenly thinks that if he could just TALK to her and get to know her she would be his. And why shouldn't she seeing that they became intimate so fast. Shouldn't that give him some standing? Both think they know her and that they are something special.
Their egos could not sustain the hard truth: she belongs to nobody. You are nobody special. Bridget is keenly aware of the Sir Galahad complex that afflicts all men to some degree and uses it to her advantage.
The film opens in New York City, where Bridget works as a telemarketing manager and her husband Clay is training to be a doctor. He is heavily in debt to a loan shark so he arranges to sell stolen pharmaceutical cocaine to two drug dealers. The transaction becomes tense when the buyers pull a gun, but rather to Clay's surprise, they eventually pay him $700,000. Clay is left shaken, and on his return home he slaps Bridget after she insults him. She then steals the cash from him and flees their apartment while he is in the shower.
On her way to Chicago she stops in Beston, a small town near Buffalo. There she meets Mike, a local man back from a whirlwind marriage in Buffalo that he refuses to talk about, who tries to pick her up. She proceeds to use him for mere sexual gratification during her stay in town. Adept at word games and mirror writing, and with an imminent return to her hometown in mind, Bridget changes her name to Wendy Kroy and gets a job at the insurance company where, coincidentally, Mike works. Their relationship is strained by her manipulative behavior and the fact he is falling for her. When Mike tells her how to find out if a man is cheating on his wife by reading his credit reports, Bridget invents a plan based on selling murders to cheated wives. She suggests they start with Lance Collier, a cheating, wife-beating husband residing in Florida. This proves to be the last straw for Mike and he leaves her alone in his place after an argument.
Clay's thumb is broken by the loan shark for not repaying his loan. Fearing for his health and in dire financial straits, he hires a private detective, Harlan, to retrieve the money from his wife. Harlan traces her phone area code, travels to Beston and accosts Bridget at gunpoint right after her argument with Mike. She manages to murder him on the drive back to her place, and tricks the police into closing the case without further investigation by using local racial prejudice to her advantage.
She then resumes her manipulation of Mike and pretends to travel to Florida to kill Lance Collier, but instead goes to Buffalo to meet Mike's ex-wife, Trish. She shows Mike the money she stole from Clay to convince him she has taken a cut from the life insurance payout from the new widow as payment for the supposed killing. She tells him she has done it so they can live together, then tries to persuade him that he must also commit a similar murder so they will be even, and to prove that he loves her. She tries to talk Mike into killing a tax lawyer in New York City cheating old ladies out of their homes. At first he rejects the idea, but agrees after receiving a letter from his ex saying she is moving to Beston. The letter was forged by Bridget to change his mind.
Mike goes to New York and breaks into the apartment of the attorney, who turns out to be Clay. After Clay is tied up by Mike, he manages to work out what is happening when Mike mentions Bridget's alias, and convinces him of the truth by showing him a photo of himself and Bridget together. They then hatch a plot to double-cross her, but she turns the tables by killing Clay herself. She tells a stunned Mike to rape her. When he refuses, she tells him she knows the truth about Trish, who is a transsexual.
This causes Mike to have rough sex with her while acting out a rape fantasy. Unbeknownst to Mike, Bridget has dialed 9-1-1 and she coaxes him into confessing to Clay's murder as part of the role play. Mike is arrested for rape and murder while she escapes with the cash and calmly destroys the only evidence that could have been used in Mike's defense.
Some sources give 1960 as Ms. Fiorentino's year of birth.
According to Fiorentino, she met "Men in Black" director Barry Sonnenfeld playing poker, got him to bet her role in that movie and won the hand.
Fiorentino was set to co-star in "Till the End of Time", a film about painter Georgia O'Keefe and her husband Alfred Steiglitz (to be played by Ben Kingsley) but the project shut down after less than a month. The actress was later sued by the production company Art Oko Film. The $5 million-plus lawsuit alleged breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and international interference with economic advantage. Her representatives had no comment.
"The thing that's always bothered me is that, even if you have a strong female character, invariably in the third act she has to say something like, 'I'm sorry, I didn't mean to hurt you,' or she has to become really vulnerable and wimpy and get her comeuppance. Even in something like 'Thelma and Louise', where you have these two very strong characters, they have to die in the end. What's so special about 'The Last Seduction' is that none of that happens. Had a Hollywood studio made that film instead of an independent, it would have been very different. She definitely wouldn't have gotten away with what she does get away with." --Linda Fiorentino to Chazz Palminteri in Interview, March 1995
"I've had receptionists in office buildings say: 'I saw "The Last Seduction", and I went home and threw my boyfriend up against the wall, and he loved it! You gave me the courage to behave like a bitch, and it was completely liberating!' I mean, women really responded as if I was living out their fantasy." --Fiorentino quoted in US, November 1995
"When I met with Paul Verhoeven for 'Basic Instinct', I couldn't get a job--it wasn't like I had a lot of choices. But he didn't want me for the lead, only for the Jeanne Tripplehorn part. I thought that was a nothing part. I told him, 'If I'm going to do something like this, I want to go for it. I'm not interested in the small part--I can do that in another movie.' Not that I had a wealth of choices at that point." --Fiorentino to Jesse Kornbluth in Buzz, November 1995
About her experience at a car-rental agency when she realized she had forgotten her wallet: "'Oh, my God, you've got to help me!' I begged the guy behind the counter. 'I've got to be at a meeting in an hour. I must be in the computer somewhere.' The guy looks at me and hisses, 'I must have a (credit card) imprint!' And I start crying, I just put on a f---ing show. And suddenly ... he goes, 'Oh, my God! You are Jade!' and he gave me the car. And I thought, if I didn't do that movie, and he didn't see it on Pay-Per-View, or wherever the f--- he saw it, I wouldn't have a car right now and I would miss the meeting. That's what I got out of 'Jade'. And that's all." --Fiorentino quoted in US, July 1997
From Linda Fiorentino - Biography - IMDb
- Won her part in Men in Black (1997) in a poker game from Barry Sonnenfeld. Besides the part, she won around $1200.
- 1995: Chosen by Empire magazine as one of the "100 Sexiest Stars" in film history (#66).
- Graduated from Washington Township High School, in Sewell, NJ. Is a graduate of Rosemont College, in Rosemont, PA (just west of Philadelphia).
- Director Kevin Smith said in his DVD commentary for Dogma (1999) that Linda wouldn't even speak to him some days and, in retrospect, he wishes he had given the part of Bethany to Janeane Garofalo instead.
- 2008: Donated $1,000 to the New York Senate Campaign for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
- She is one of 8 children. Her mother's name is Clorinda Fiorentino and her sisters include Rose Fiorentino, Catherine Fiorentino, and Terry Fiorentino Christie.
- 1980: Earned her Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from Rosemont College in Pennsylvania at 22 years old.
- She has been an active photographer since 1987 and has studied it at the International Center of Photography in New York City.
- She has optioned the film rights to Colin Patrick Lynch's play, "One Eyed Jacks and Suicide Kings".
- She has optioned rights to the Jim Curtis' screenplay about Russian poetess, Anna Akhmatova, in July 2007.
- She has starred in two unrelated movies that deal with aliens posing as humans: "Men in Black" and "What Planet Are You From?".
- She lives in Westport, Connecticut.
- She attended a political fund raiser for Governor Eliot Spitzer of New York in New York City. [January 2007]
- Linda Fiorentino, Eve Ensler and rock legend Lou Reed joining 'Lawrence Wright' and director Gregory Mosher at the opening of the Culture Project's "My Trip to Al-Qaeda" in New York City screening. [March 2007]
- She has been developing documentaries about research in juvenile diabetes and autism; about discrimination against Italian Americans in "Equal Protection"; and a daytime show about parenting techniques entitled "Motherhood." [December 2007]
- She was at Elaine's in New York City for a book signing party for author Adam Davies on his new book, "Goodbye, Lemon". [July 2006]
- She attended the premiere of the political documentary, Street Fight (2005), in New York City. [January 2006]
- She currently owns her own production Company, "Mandate Management", and has recently been attached to star and co-produce a film based on the life of Russian poet, 'Anna Ahkmatova', which will likely begin filming in Spring of 2007. [October 2006]
- Linda attended for the Citymeals-on-Wheels 21st annual Power Lunch for Women to raise money for 160,000 meals for homebound elderly at the Rainbow Room in New York City on November 16, 2007. [November 2007]
- She attended the Atlantic Monthly Dinner in New York City to commemorate the State of the Union Address. [February 2006]
- She splits her time betwee her homes in Westport, Connecticut and New York City, New York. [June 2007]
Personal Quotes (21)
- The thing that's always bothered me is that, even if you have a strong female character, invariably in the third act she has to say something like, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to hurt you," or she has to become really vulnerable and wimpy and get her comeuppance. Even in something like Thelma & Louise (1991), where you have these two very strong characters, they have to die in the end. What's so special about The Last Seduction (1994) is that none of that happens. Had a Hollywood studio made that film instead of an independent, it would have been very different. She definitely wouldn't have gotten away with what she does get away with.
- Marriage is a financial contract; I have enough contracts already.
- I go to bed with men, not boys.
- All I'm thinking about today is cleaning my bathroom.
- As actors, the thing we have to fight, more than even the business part of making movies, is boredom.
- Chazz Palminteri is just the ultimate screen husband.
- Do you know what my real name is? It's Clorinda. Which is also Italian. They used to call me Clorox when I was a kid.
- I have a sister who's kind of in the business -- she does voice-overs. I think they all watch what I go through and have decided to get married and have children instead. It's a safer bet.
- [on getting the part of Bethany in Dogma (1999)] When I read the script, I just said, "There's no way anyone else is allowed to have this part". I thought it was extremely clever and it had very imaginative answers to all my childhood questions about angels and devils and the apostles and all that stuff.
- I don't look at scripts in terms of commercially. I just look at the part, the people involved.
- I never wear leather.
- I would love to have children, yes. Maybe even adopt them. I'm not sure that I should pass on my genes.
- I would like to do maybe a smaller romantic comedy.
- I've been in the bargain basement of the movie business.
- I was still making movies so it wasn't as if I were working in a bar, but they were independent films that couldn't find distributors.
- They're my favorite two words these days: Oscar reject.
- You can talk about movies all you want, but I have this porcelain fetish. I've had it since I was a kid, because there were so many kids in my family, the only place I had any solace was in the bathroom.
- You constantly have to find something that's challenging, a director who's challenging, co-stars who are challenging. That's what keeps us going
- Teens aren't just interested in getting laid. I won't believe that's all they're interested in. I have four younger sisters and they're sick of being shown how they're supposed to react in bed.
- Sometimes I have to work because I need the money. You weigh the issues and ask yourself, "Can I wake up every morning and do this?"
- [Interview with Roger Ebert, 1995.] I'm single and I've gone on a few dates since The Last Seduction (1994) came out and I could see the disappointment in the eyes of men who thought I was going to be a hot date and teach them all this weird stuff. And then they find out I'm just a normal person, you know, and I don't have leanings towards strange sexual behavior and it's like a disappointment crosses their faces.
October 6, 2000 | The Guardian
Linda Fiorentino can be fierce (The Last Seduction), freaky (Martin Scorsese's After Hours) and even, occasionally, financially viable (Men In Black). But no matter what screen persona she inhabits, she is almost always memorable and invariably quite funny. She's all that and more in her latest movie Where The Money Is, as a smalltown nursing home attendant intrigued by her latest charge, Paul Newman, whom she uses to scheme her way out of her dead-end life. Forty, unmarried and close to her seven brothers and sisters, the Philadelphia-raised actress is somewhat more satisfied with her own life. And whatever isn't right about it, well, at least it's good for a laugh.
Was there any trepidation about making a movie with a legend like Paul Newman?
Actually, it's such hard work that there isn't time to think that way. Plus, I knew that if I thought that way early on that I would not have been able to work. But while I was watching the film for the first time, about halfway through I started shaking and almost fell off my chair. My friend who was there with me said, "What's wrong? It's not bad, it's pretty good." And I said, "No, it's that I did a movie with Paul Newman!" That was the first time that it occurred to me.
What was the experience of working with him like?
He's such a normal guy. He doesn't think of himself as a movie star or icon; he just wants to get home and go to sleep, I think, like me. That's mostly what you think about when you're working. He is a little hustler, though, pardon the pun. He likes to pretend that he isn't good at certain sports like ping-pong or badminton, and then he kills everyone. His hand-eye coordination is amazing. And he's going to be sexy to his last breath, that man.
Speaking of which, what did it feel like to lap dance for him and not get any response at all?
It was the challenge of the piece. But isn't that also the female fantasy, being in total control of the situation? I mean, all men should be in comas when we make love to them; some of them are.
Are you attracted to playing dangerous women?
I'm not so sure I'm attracted to dangerous women as people are attracted to me playing those parts. But maybe I'm a thrill-seeker of sorts. I grew up in a large family, so there was a lot of competition to be the best, the prettiest and the smartest. So, that's probably where I learned everything I needed to do what I do in the movies.
Didn't you originally intend to be a lawyer?
Yes; my degree is in political science. I was heading to law school and my political philosophy teacher talked me out of it and told me to become an actress.
So now that it's paid off, how do you keep your feet on the ground?
I have really big feet, so that helps. I don't live in LA, I live in New York, and that's a major thing that keeps me stable. The people closest to me are not Hollywood types, they're friends and family. My sisters are my best friends; I've been really lucky to have them.
You seem to have a love/hate thing going with this business.
It's not love/hate; the business aspect is just pure hate! I love what it has afforded me in terms of experiences and excitement and money, and the people I've met and the work I've done. But I find many of the people in this business to be cruel, I find them uninteresting, I find them vain; I just would rather think of it as my job and not my life.
Oct 8, 1995 | RogerEbert.comI have this terminal condition called bitchiness, right?" Linda Fiorentino smiled, and tossed her hair back from her forehead. Straight, black hair, framing dark eyes that level with you. Just the way she looked in "The Last Seduction," and just the way she looks in "Jade."
At a time when half the women on the screen seem to be bimbos or slashers, she came along in 1994 with a low-budget film that brushed them aside. A film in which she played a woman who was smart, evil and ruthless, and who got away with it. In the video stores "The Last Seduction" is always out of stock; it's a cult hit not only among film fans, but among women who relate to her strong heroine, and among men who. . .
"There's a challenge there that some men relate to," Fiorentino was telling me. "I could feel it from the reactions I got on the street. There were men who saw that characters and thought, I want to be the one to bring her to her knees. I could take her down. That's the challenge for them; the turn-on."
In "The Last Seduction," she knows what she wants and gets it. There's a would-be stud in a bar who thinks he's going to act macho and pick her up, and she wraps him around her little finger, in more ways than one. In "Jade" (opening Friday at local theaters), she plays a related role, as a woman who is wife, mistress, threat, solution; strong cops, lawyers and millionaires are mesmerized by her.
"I'm single," Fiorentino said, "and I've gone on a few dates since `The Last Seduction' came out and I could see the disappointment in the eyes of men who thought I was going to be hot date and teach them all this weird stuff. And then they find out I'm just a normal person, you know, and I don't have leanings toward strange sexual behavior and it's like a disappointment crosses their faces."
In person, she's likable and warm. She sets people at ease. That is not the character she plays in any of her best roles, including Martin Scorsese's "After Hours" (1985), where she was the leather-clad domanatrix, or in "Vision Quest" (1985), where she was the 20-year-old who gets involved with the complicated kid on the high school wrestling team, and turns out to be even more complicated. The string continues in "Jade," which was written by a certain Joe Eszterhas, whose credits include "Showgirls" and "Basic Instinct," and directed by the master of thrillers, William ("The Exorcist") Friedkin.
Basically, she plays bad girls, women with a secret, women who see through men. I asked her how that got started.
"I keep asking myself the same question," Fiorentino said. "Maybe others see in me what I don't necessarily see in myself. And a lot of it in Hollywood has to do with what you look like. I'm dark and my eyes are dark and my voice is deep, and how the hell could I play a Meg Ryan role, the way I look?"
She looks great this morning, sitting in a Ritz-Carlton Hotel room, and then later over lunch downstairs in Foodlife. She is smart and verbal, and knows it, and likes to play with it. Her movie roles depend on that verbal power, which is ever so much more intriguing than ice picks and the other standard tools of the Hollywood Bitch.
Actors often say, I mused, that the evil roles are more fun to play.
"They are, but I think I've done it enough now. I think there is a certain catharsis in being as evil as you can and getting away with it, and getting paid for it."
That sounded splendidly villainous, but she put a certain spin on it, so that in a way she was kidding herself.
There's a theory, I said, that Hollywood executives are afraid of women, and that explains why women are seen in the movies as either helpless sex symbols or perpetuators. If they're not a victim, they have a knife in their hand. Very few of them are friends, lovers, mates in the movies.
"These men obviously have problems."
What's going on with that?
"I think it must correlate with power, you know. When we were doing `Jade,' the way Joe Eszterhas wrote the sex scenes was so dated and so boring, and I just thought, I can't do this. And there was a lot of nudity, and I thought, we've gotta come up with something a little more interesting, just to keep me going here.
"So I did a little random research, you know, and I asked a couple of women I had known who had affairs with men who were very powerful - and invariably those men in powerful positions wanted to be dominated by the woman at the end of the day. They wanted to be the submissive party in the sex act, and it correlated with the level of power. Maybe men with no power want to dominate their women. I just thought, well, this is interesting. And it's the same for women: Women want to be the dominant party because that's their fantasy and the male fantasy is to be the submissive party. And so we got into that in `Jade.' "
It is a little strange, I said, for you to come off of "The Last Seduction," which took no hostages, and now you find yourself in a screenplay by Joe Eszterhas, whose insights into women are, to say the least, on a different level. When I talked to Friedkin at the Venice Film Festival, he said you were the most courageous woman he had ever known. Now what did he mean by that?
" `Jade' wasn't exactly the easiest filmmaking experience. It was a courageous attempt on my part, and I think Billy recognized that."
What took courage?
"At the time . . . I'm gonna tell you things I haven't told anybody yet . . . at the time I was reacting to a lot of things that were going on in my life in terms of, well, suddenly being recognized for a change."
Tears started in her eyes as she said that, but she cleared her throat and carried on.
"I think that had a lot to do with my approach to the role. There was a lot of resentment and I think that became a part of the filmmaking process on `Jade.' I mean, I truly was living moment to moment and I think Billy recognized that. He knew how difficult it was for me at that point. I was very skeptical about doing this film. I'm not a huge Joe Eszterhas fan, as you can imagine. I just thought, this is a whole other world. I was very skeptical about getting involved in this production and I think that Billy, having had the experience that he had up until that point, became sort of a mentor to me, and said, `You know what? I screwed up, Linda, and as your fan I'm not going to let you screw up.' And I think that became part of the collaborative effort on the film itself and so in that way became more exciting for me."
You mean, he felt that he had screwed up earlier in his career with certain choices?
"Absolutely. At a very young age he was the biggest director in Hollywood for a while (after `The French Connection' and `The Exorcist'), and I think he believed there came a time when he betrayed himself and his work. So I learned a lot from him."
Fiorentino speaks with such a low voice it's a surprise to discover she's not a smoker. It's the kind of voice that lends itself to confidences and asides and, in the movies, to seductive conspiracies that men are later going to regret they ever heard. She has presence and style that have always been there, in both good movies and bad. In the right role they make her intriguing, like the great bad ladies of the screen, like Barbara Stanwyck in "Double Indemnity," or Faye Dunaway in "Network," or the Marlene Dietrich who said, "You don't get to be known as Shanghai Lil in one night."
I asked her: Have you always been, more or less, like you are? Is this you?
"I don't think so," she said. "I think that we all reinvent ourselves. We all grow up with different experiences. I grew up in a large Italian Catholic family; very operatic. It makes sense that I would choose acting as a career. I had a difficult time as a child trying to find my own place in my family because there were eight children screaming for attention and I think that we were all trying to find our way - and I literally reinvented myself for the attention. I became like this."
Who were you before you reinvented yourself?
"A nerdy little kid who always got straight A's, which were never good enough for my parents: `Yeah, you got straight A's. Let's see if you can do it again.' And I was always in the advanced math class and I think by the time I got to high school, I realized that that wasn't very attractive to the boys, that I was smarter than them. So I began to pretend I was a little more stupid, I think."
I think you've gone back to the "smarter than them" image. . .
She smiled again.
"Maybe a combination. What works on the surface may not work beneath the surface."
"Isn't that the agreement that the audience makes with the filmmaker? It's the agreement you make when you pay that $8. You're going to go in there and believe everything that you see, whether it's true or not. It's the surface that counts. It's a complicity between the filmmaker and the audience and that's what makes it work. After `The Last Seduction' came out, I'd have a dental hygenist telling me, while I'm having my teeth cleaned,
`I saw your movie and I went home and behaved like a bitch and my boyfriend loved it. We had the hottest sex that we had in a long time.' I just thought, this is astounding."
"That definitely was a dream role. After I read that script, I was in Arizona and I got in a car and drove six hours to get to the meeting because I had never read anything so unique in terms of a female character. And I walked in the meeting with John Dahl, the director, and I said, `John, you are not allowed to hire anyone but me for this film.'
And I wasn't kidding. I figured it was a kind of role and a kind of film that if it worked it would work very well and if it didn't, I would probably be in law school right now pursuing my other career."
Yeah, I said, you were headed for law school when you got sidetracked into acting. Well, you could always play Marcia Clark. You look a little like her."
"My eyes are dark enough."
Concerted efforts at influence and control lie at the core of cultic groups, programs, and relationships. Many members, former members, and supporters of cults are not fully aware of the extent to which members may have been manipulated, exploited, even abused. The following list of social-structural, social-psychological, and interpersonal behavioral patterns commonly found in cultic environments may be helpful in assessing a particular group or relationship.
Compare these patterns to the situation you were in (or in which you, a family member, or friend is currently involved). This list may help you determine if there is cause for concern. Bear in mind that this list is not meant to be a "cult scale" or a definitive checklist to determine if a specific group is a cult. This is not so much a diagnostic instrument as it is an analytical tool.
- The group displays excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader and (whether he is alive or dead) regards his belief system, ideology, and practices as the Truth, as law.
- Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.
- Mind-altering practices (such as meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, denunciation sessions, and debilitating work routines) are used in excess and serve to suppress doubts about the group and its leader(s).
- The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel (for example, members must get permission to date, change jobs, marry-or leaders prescribe what types of clothes to wear, where to live, whether or not to have children, how to discipline children, and so forth).
- The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s) and members (for example, the leader is considered the Messiah, a special being, an avatar-or the group and/or the leader is on a special mission to save humanity).
- The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which may cause conflict with the wider society.
- The leader is not accountable to any authorities (unlike, for example, teachers, military commanders or ministers, priests, monks, and rabbis of mainstream religious denominations).
- The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify whatever means it deems necessary. This may result in members' participating in behaviors or activities they would have considered reprehensible or unethical before joining the group (for example, lying to family or friends, or collecting money for bogus charities).
- The leadership induces feelings of shame and/or guilt iin order to influence and/or control members. Often, this is done through peer pressure and subtle forms of persuasion.
- Subservience to the leader or group requires members to cut ties with family and friends, and radically alter the personal goals and activities they had before joining the group.
- The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members.
- The group is preoccupied with making money.
- Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group and group-related activities.
- Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members.
- The most loyal members (the "true believers") feel there can be no life outside the context of the group. They believe there is no other way to be, and often fear reprisals to themselves or others if they leave (or even consider leaving) the group.
This checklist will be published in the new book, Take Back Your Life: Recovering from Cults and Abusive Relationships by Janja Lalich and Madeleine Tobias (Berkeley: Bay Tree Publishing, 2006). It was adapted from a checklist originally developed by Michael Langone.
amazon.comDan E. Nicholas, February 4, 2016And some are not even bad people. She says it's when folks who lack ...Wild'n'Free
I'm reading and loving this book. I'll expand my review when I'm completely done in a couple days but just have to say: get it. Read it. Learn about yourself; if you dare. (I gave it four stars rather than five to protect myself!)
I was shocked how well she documents that it is we the conned that want the con to be real. The Grifter doesn't even have to always be that skilled. I went back and saw ways I got conned in matters of the heart while dating; in buying things; in following certain leaders in church.
Stunned to learned that 1% of the population is psychopathological in the way their brains are wired, some folks just can't feel or give meaning to your pain or the pain of others. And some are not even bad people. She says it's when folks who lack this "proper" wiring aim to use it for financial gain or to win and break hearts? Awful.
I fell in love with a Man Eater once. Looking back I see how it was my fault in setting up my own fall. I want things to look like they would work. The bad rests on me now. She's still a Man Eater. But the wounds I earned with my stupidity. I went on to find success with love but I've some scars for sure due to female cons running scams unwittingly online with dating sights.
She shows we can be wise without being cynical. I like that.Disappointing but with some qualities,
November 28, 2015
Konnikova promises a lot in the titles to her books. I read Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes and was disappointed. I did not learn to think like Sherlock Holmes; not by a long shot. In this book, Konnikova has come closer to delivering the "Why We Fall for It . . . Every Time" but I disagree with her observations and conclusions.
As a former prosecutor of elder abuse crimes (both physical and financial), I have a lot of experience with people who "fall for it." But that certainly doesn't mean everyone does. Nor does it mean that the ones who don't "fall for it" are more cynical, less humane, less open to true friendship, etc. In fact, Konnikova's description of victims of con artists as being more open and in touch with their humanity sounds like the manipulation of a con artist.
Not that I think Konnikova is a con artist. She is just a very ambitious young woman and a self-promoter. I have read a lot of her magazine articles and have enjoyed many of them. Unfortunately, her organizational and analytical skills as a writer do not make her a good writer of books. Viewed as a series of magazine articles with the inevitable repetitions this book holds up fairly well.
But as a book, it lacks a great deal. It certainly deserves 3 stars, but its failure to respond to bigger questions with bigger answers makes it fall short. For me, it was an uneven, often repetitious, fairly shallow approach to a fascinating subject. Until she matures as a thinker and researcher, Konnikova does better when she sticks to the magazine articles that she handles so well.
"In fact, Konnikova's description of victims of con artists as being more open and in touch with their humanity sounds like the manipulation of a con artist."
Excellent observation and excellent review.
As a scientist, used to sorting through ambiguous evidence and well-meaning but underdetermined interpretations, I find this book excellent. The author no doubt has to cast speculations of her own, and overplay some connections and implications, but the connections between gullibility, optimism, cults, and scams strike me as well articulated. The field of psychology is messy, but this book was very interesting and enlightening, clear as is possible (aside from chapters organized like magazine articles), and the connection between empathetic people and people who get scammed seems completely reasonable, albeit with a less than perfect correlation.
Joe Madison says:
I have the same question as Ellis Reppo: If this book is only average, can you recommend a good one? I have not read The Confidence Game, but I have a psych degree and a longstanding interest in persuasion. I often find popular psych books to be like you describe The Confidence Game (repetitive, without great breadth of understanding), and so your own book recommendations would be of real value. Thanks!
pat black says:
There's one called Eyeing the Flash: The Making of a Carnival Con Artist. A case study, if you will, of a 17-year-old middle class math whiz who became a midway con man in 1960s midwest
I'd stick to making an unbiased appraisal of the merits of the book if I were you, and cut out the ad hominem nonsense. As a reviewer you are privileged to make an opinion on the book's attributes, how it answers the questions raised by the author, etc.
But you are not at all privileged to launch unsolicited attacks on the personal attributes of the author. (Your line "until she matures as a thinker and researcher....." was completely uncalled-for, and hints more at your feelings of insecurity and inadequacy than anything else.)
Kirk McElhearn says:
Read David Maurer's The Big Con. It explains how the cons work, rather than focusing on lots of psychological studies that Konnikova looks at, trying to suss out why we respond the way we do.
Nathan Webster TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE on November 27, 2015Loyd Eskildson HALL OF FAMEon January 12, 2016
Entertaining and interesting look at conmen and the rubes who buy what they sell
This is a fun book that covers a lot of ground about 'cons,' from the personalities of those who can commit them, to the marks and rubes who get taken advantage of.
You would think in our informed culture, we couldn't be fooled, but we know that's not the case. Author Maria Konnikova does a good job presenting all sides of these stories and it's often entertaining reading about the pure brazeness of it all. I had not heard of many of the conmen (and women) that she describes and I always like reading new stories.
I do wish there had been more recent accounts - there are so many cheaters like Lance Armstrong that aren't exactly doing it for profit, and more attention to them would have been interesting. Three-card monte gets some attention - but that's not that interesting to me...I know why they succeed, because people want to see if THEY can beat the game - it's not a con as much as a battle of wits, which the rube always loses (I was cheated on a rigged carny game years ago - they suck you in with a few easy wins, then it gets progressively harder to win the stuffed animal).
I think the book is not disorganized, but it does cover a lot of ground, and the different names and situations can be difficult to follow at times. Interesting and entertaining, yes, but just be ready to pay attention.
Ultimately, it's an interesting sociological study - as long as there's an advantage to fooling somebody, people will try to fool other people. I would not use this book as the primary source - I think a reader should have interest in this specific topic first, and not use this book to try to get interested. It's a little too specific to get a reader invested who comes to the topic totally new.Rogues Regularly Triumph Over The Meek
Author Maria Konnikova has a Ph.D. in Psychology from Columbia, along with considerable experience researching topics in and writing about psychology. This, her second book, is about conmen - elegant, outsized personalities, artists of persuasion and exploiters of trust, not just your dime a dozen cheats and swindlers. Their 'bible' is Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People."
A confidence game starts with basic human psychology. The con identifies what the victim wants and how to play on that desire to achieve what the con-artist wants. Size someone up well, and you can sell them anything; it helps to have someone in the throes of some sort of life turmoil - the conman preys on what people wish were true, reaffirming their views of themselves and giving their lives meaning. Doing so requires the creation of empathy and rapport - laying an emotional foundation before any scheme is proposed.
The con is an exercise in soft skills - trust, sympathy, persuasion. He doesn't steal - we give. We believe because we want to, and we offer whatever they want - money, reputation, trust, fame, support, and don't realize what is happening until it is too late. No one is immune to the art of the con - it is not who you are, but where you happen to be at the moment in your life (eg. undergoing misfortune).
By the time things begin to look dicey, the victims tend to be so invested, emotionally and often physically, that they do most of the persuasion themselves. The con-artist may not even need to convince his victims to stay quite - they usually are more likely than not to do so themselves. When we hear others talking about their unbelievable deal or good fortune, we realize at once they've been taken for a sucker, but when it happens to us, it's simply because "I'm lucky and deserving of a good turn."
The best of cons are never discovered - we simply write our loss off as a matter of bad luck.
Psychopaths make up an estimated 1% of male population; among women, they are almost nonexistent. Grifters also are highly likely to be narcissist and Machiavellian. Narcissism entails a sense of grandiosity, entitlement, an overly inflated sense of worth, and manipulativeness. Machiavellian has come to mean a specific set of traits that allows one to manipulate others - employs aggressive, manipulative, exploiting, and devious moves. They are also more likely to attempt to bluff, cheat, bargain, and ingratiate themselves with others, and more successful at doing so.
Leadership and high-profile roles, salesmen/marketers, and the legal profession are all more likely to be populated by confidence men.
Researcher James Fallon believes that certain critical periods in childhood can nudge one more or less towards full-blown psychopathy - luck out, you become a high-functioning psychopath, get the bad draw and you become a violent psychopath. Fallon believes the first three years of life are crucial in determining one's psychopathic future.
The con is the oldest game there is, and it's likely to be entering a new age - thanks to new opportunities brought by increasing technology that make it far easier to establish convincing false identities (eg. LinkedIn), as well as identify those who might be more likely conned (dating sites that identify widows and divorcees). Since 2008, consumer fraud in the U.S. has risen more than 60%, with online scams more than doubling. In 2012 alone, the Internet Crime Complaint Center reported almost 300,000 complaints of online fraud, with over $500 million lost. Between 2011 and 2012, the Federal Trade Commission found that a little over 10% of American adults (25.6 million) had fallen victim to fraud. The majority of the cases involved fake weight-loss products, second place went to false prize promotions, and in third place was buyers' clubs in which what seemed like a free deal actually involves membership charges you didn't even know you'd signed up for. Fourth was unauthorized Internet billing, and finally work-at-home programs.
Con artists aren't just master manipulators - they are expert storytellers (eg. 'I'm supporting my mother, who now has AIDS,' 'I had PTSD from Iraq,' etc. Once we've accepted a story as true we will probably unconsciously bend any contradictory information to conform to the conclusion we've already drawn - it's known as 'confirmation bias.' Ultimately, what a confidence artist sells is hope. Many cases go unreported - most cases, by some estimates. AARP found that only 37% of victims over 55 will admit to having fallen for a con, and just over half those under 55 do so. Most con artists don't ever come to trial because they aren't brought to the authorities to begin with.
Most people require three things to align before going from legitimacy to con-artistry - motivation (underlying predisposition created by psychopathy), narcissism, and Machiavellianism - along with opportunity and a plausible rationale. In corporate fraud, for example, few choose to con in a vacuum - they also perceive an aggressive sales environment (opportunity) and a feeling they must do something to stand out. For a significant percentage of the conning population, surroundings matter. About half those who commit fraud cite intolerable competitive conditions as justification. They can rationalize away just about any behavior as necessary.
In one study of 15,000, only 50 could consistently detect liars - they relied on detecting incredibly fast facial movements as their clues. One of those 50 is now employed in law enforcement, and she told the author that smart psychopaths are super liars and have no conscience, and are very hard for her to identify.
The first commandment of the con man - 'Be a patient listener.' (Victor Lustig, con artist) Emotion is the primary hook used, much more powerful than logic. Cons tend to thrive in the wake of economic or natural disaster illness, personal travail. Sadness makes us more prone to risk taking and impulsivity - perfect for certain types of cons. Con artists love funerals and obituaries, divorces, layoffs, and general loneliness. He does everything in his power to bring our self-perceived better-than-averageness perceptions to the fore - eg. 'How intelligent you are, Professor Frampton.' And we believe it, because we want it to be.
Consistency plays a crucial role in our ongoing evaluations of a person we're helping - 'If I've helped you before, you must be worth it.'
Overall - some good points about con-men - but far too reliant on anecdotes.
Kevin L. Nenstiel TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE. November 2, 2015
Know How Crooks Think, So They Can't Outthink YouOur world positively teems with swindlers, ripoff artists, and con-men. From ordinary curbside Three-Card Monte to charming, narcissistic domestic abusers, to Ponzi schemers and Wall Street market riggers, the confidence game exudes from society's very pores. Psychologist turned journalist Maria Konnikova wants to unpack what makes us susceptible to con artists, a journey that leads through all human psychology, sometimes vulnerable to diversions and cow paths.
Konnikova's first book, Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes, dealt with how crime fighters organize thoughts, observe reality, and undermine criminal mentality. This book essentially addresses the same issues from the opposite angle: how criminals create situations that need busting. Konnikova's conclusions may seem surprising, until we consider them further. Vulnerability to confidence artists and other professional chiselers actually means our psyches are healthy.
Confidence artists work with an encyclopedic understanding of human psychology with which research scientists are only now catching up. They recognize common traits, like our tendency to see others as similar to ourselves, our illusion of control, and our unwillingness to think badly about ourselves. These traits aren't weaknesses; without them, we'd be functionally paralyzed. Effective swindlers work by turning our best characteristics and human capabilities against us.
We must recognize, therefore, that making ourselves insusceptible to cons isn't actually desirable. Fraudsters prey on traits that open us to community, family, and fiscal reward. As Konnikova writes: "The same thing that can underlie success can also make you all the more vulnerable to the grifter's wares. We are predisposed to trust." With swindles, as with propaganda, those who think themselves most immune are, actually, most vulnerable.
The answer lies in understanding ourselves and the swindlers better. They don't see us like we see ourselves. They don't want to. We must cultivate complex understanding of different human thought patterns, and a stronger sense of ourselves. Konnikova again: "It's not that the confidence artist is inherently psychopathic, caring nothing about the fates of others. It's that, to him, we aren't worthy of consideration as human beings; we are targets, not unique people."
All isn't bleak. Throughout most of this book, Konnikova suggests it's difficult to prevent con-games without isolating ourselves and descending into cynicism. In the later chapters, though, she reverses the trend, showing how skilled, self-aware people can resist flim-flam artists' techniques. Not hypothetically, either: she shows how real people, cult busters and cultural anthropologists and police, have maintained their sanity when confronted by seemingly insurmountable double-dealing. Resistance is possible.
As Konnikova explains confidence artists' psychological techniques, her focus expands to include much about recent discoveries in psychology and behavioral economics. She wants readers to emerge with as thorough an understanding of human minds as the fraud merchants enjoy. This sometimes makes her technique sprawling (this book runs over 300 pages plus back matter, unusually long for its genre.)
Reading Konnikova sometimes requires especial concentration and focus.
She richly rewards those who stick with her narrative, though. I've recently seen one friend lose rafts to shady investments and two others get burned by charming, narcissistic romantic partners. Even if we never vote for crooks, invest with Bernie Madoff, or buy salvation sellers' wares, the potential for confidence games still surrounds us. Konnikova provides needed tools for self-awareness, clear boundaries, and bold self-defense. Swindles are inevitable; victimhood isn't.
IMDbvisceralgirl-1 from Alexandria, VA, 30 April 2001
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
One of my faves
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS!
This movie takes my breath away every time I see it. I actually watched it for the first time in a theater and the experience for me and my husband was that unique, stupefying feeling that only comes when you know you have seen something very special (Got the same feeling with "Pulp Fiction" and "Silence of the Lambs"). Repeated viewings have not diminished it.
Could I ever dare to be as remorselessly wicked as Bridget? Here is a perfect, lethal psychopath all the more dangerous because she is stunningly beautiful and sexy as hell. While you don't want an actual psychopath in your life, it is thrilling to watch one on the screen and somehow sympathize with her simply because you are stunned by what she is capable of. Other commenters have pointed out that Bridget does not have worthy opponents in these men that surround her. I myself believe that the point of the movie is not that she is so smart (which she is) but so thoroughly amoral that she always gets what she wants simply by playing with society's fragile rules. Her black empty eyes right before she kills her husband by thrusting her mace down his throat say it all.
Also interesting and what can only be seen when the movie is from her point of view is that her actions don't always succeed but then she manages to adapt. She rather reminded me of a highly proficient, but not expert, chess player. It takes a lot of prodding to talk Mike into murder and even then she still has to play her "Trish" card, make him think that the transsexual (transvestite?) he mistakenly married is coming to Beston.
And what of these poor men? I found their shortcomings completely believable. A scary truth about men in general. Absolutely Bill Pullman's character would still want to be married to her even after all she put him through. He seems to get a sexual thrill in his attempts to track her down after she leaves him in the lurch. Absolutely the NY detective would feel obliged to prove to her that he is well endowed. Absolutely the basically decent rube could be talked into killing for her (well up to a point!). Men feel they have something to prove. Her husband needs to feel that he is still first in her heart. Her rube boyfriend mistakenly thinks that if he could just TALK to her and get to know her she would be his. And why shouldn't she seeing that they became intimate so fast. Shouldn't that give him some standing? Both think they know her and that they are something special. Their egos could not sustain the hard truth: she belongs to nobody. You are nobody special. Bridget is keenly aware of the Sir Galahad complex that afflicts all men to some degree and uses it to her advantage.
Actually, the movie is striking for the way men are always doing her bidding all throughout even when the action is mundane, such as a gas station attendant pumping gas for her SUV when the sign clearly reads "Self Service Only." Her lawyer who is fully aware that she is a self serving bitch but who nevertheless dispenses legal advice. And let's not forget the poor telemarketers working under her at the beginning of the movie. And she does not always need to use all her armament. Sometimes a $20 bill to a bureaucrat is all it takes.
And she also dons several personas when it suits her purpose. The poor battered spouse hiding from her husband when she applies for a job. The little homemaker (with an apron no less!) when she entices the local detective with cookies. Playing on the Beston police's racism and small town mentality when describing the black detective exposing himself. The movie is brilliant in the way it shows her manipulations even in minor scenes and pedestrian situations.
The movie succeeds in establishing a moody film noir feel especially well given that most of it takes place in a modern suburban version of small town America. One of my favorite aspects of the movie is the bland insurance company because it is a realistic depiction of how people live. When my husband and I find ourselves in neighborhoods resembling those in the movie, we still to this day start humming that music.
And yes there's the music. Jazzy, spare, and disturbing, a subtle affirmation of the fact that it is a black harsh world. Highly recommended.
Neil Grutchfield from London, 10/1023 October 2001
Until LA Confidential waltzed in this was the definitive 1990's noire and whilst LA Confidential looks back to the 40s with salty nostalgia The Last Seduction revels at the opportunity to create a modern day femme fatale. At the centre of it is Linda Fiorentino's ball-breaking Bridget laying low after slipping out of Manhattan with husband Bill Pullman's drug money. She relocates to a hick town and quickly finds a job and a "designated f***" (Pete Berg).>
But when her husband tries to track her down she spins a web out of an insurance scam which will see to all the men interfering with her freedom.
Bridget is smart, manipulative, utterly ruthless and acting on the advice of someone who is not unfamiliar with all these attributes - J T Walsh plays her lawyer.
The dialogue crackles and there is some great humor in Bridget's fish-out-of-water purgatory. The denouement is tightly shaped with a great pay off.
If you see one John Dahl film see this one
Fenris Fil from Brighton, Englandjjh6519 from United States, 7 July 2002
It's not noir, just a bad film. 4/10
Okay, first thing I'd like to say is that having your protagonist smoke a lot, making shallow and obvious references to "Double Indemnity" and having a Femme Fatale does not instantly make a film a modern Noir. Not by a long way.
As it happens I've been watching a lot of classic and modern Noirs lately and this film really doesn't fit in with any of those. I've watched Chinatown, L.A.Confidential, Grifters, The Spanish Prisoner and probably most similar Body Heat, all recently. They all come across as having enough Noir elements to justify the tag and having watched those mixed in with the likes of The Big Sleep, Double Indemnity, Scarlet Street and Sunset Blvd (all over the last month or so), I feel like I'm in a good position to make that judgement . This film just doesn't fit in with those (and not in a good way either). It's not the only film wrongly labelled as Modern Noir IMHO, I'd say "Bound" is too, but at least that film was half decent and didn't seem to be making a pitch for that tag.
Okay, so the Femme Fatale in this film is also the protagonist. That's fine. But she is so transparent and so obviously a total bitch that she's not doing a very good job of it all. Certainly not compared to Femme Fatales from the classic Noirs. It's not that Fiorentino's performance is bad (or that of any others in the film) it's just the whole story is so terrible and unbelievable the best acting performance in the world couldn't save it.
Fortunatly for her character all the men she is surround with (aside from a lawyer she only phones) are so mind numbingly stupid, naive and gullible that she can still control them to her ends. The trouble with that is it's not terribly believable. The worst of these is her new boyfriend Mike, who bring stupidity and naivety to a new level. This is made worse by the fact that we are meant to believe he is a competent claims adjuster for an insurance company. He must cost the company millions! The worst problem with this is that you are left with absolutely no sympathy for any of the male characters in the film and in some cases you kind of feel they deserve what they get for being so dumb. For me that makes for a bad film.
This film came across to me like a film that was trying to be a modern noir, more specifically a modern version of Double Indemnity, but no one involved had ever seen that film or any other noirs and so were just trying to base it all on vague plot summaries and the well known aspects of Noir (smoking, femme fatals, murder). It wouldn't surprise me if that was the case.
What does surprise me is how high this films rating is. I can only presume it's because of Fiorentino. She did a good job with what she was given and she was sexy. Not sexy enough to make you think for even the slightest moment you'd be suckered in by her. But certainly sexy enough to get a reaction in your pants. But then all the sex scenes in this film are very much modern, non-noir ideas. Which leads me to my penultimate thought - if the film wasn't down as being a modern noir and was just some 90's seduction flick would it be rated anywhere near as high? My final thought however is on the music. This film has a terrible cheap sounding soundtrack that doesn't really work with the film. Again it's like they wanted something that sounded a bit Noir, but didn't actually want to put much effort into it. That really sums up the whole film.
Reverse Version of "Body Heat"?
This was completely fascinating, the tale of the ultimate bitch. Or was she the only one? I recall that Kathleen Turner played a very similar person in "Body Heat". But "Body Heat" told about an ultimate bitch from the victim's perspective. "The Last Seduction" tells about the same type of person, only this time from her perspective.
Excellent movie, for a small-budget film. The acting by Linda Fiorentino is perfect. You love to hate her, much the same as Kathleen Turner's character.
sari-10 from Evanston, IL8 December 2005
Film Noire with a *great* woman's part, 8/10
I also thought of "Body Heat" after seeing this movie because both lead women's parts are diabolical and both Kathleen Turner and Linda Fiorentino were at the apex of their attractiveness when these movies were shot. That was appropriate because both characters use their looks to get men to do their bidding for them. However, the plots of the two movies are pretty different. "Body Heat" is more like "Double Indemnity" and "The Last Seduction" involves a drug heist. The sex scenes in "The Last Seduction" are very hot...and more graphic than those of Body Heat. The dialogue is well written, and Bill Pullman is good too. This is one of my favorite movies, but somehow, did not get a very long run at the theaters.
ByDesireeon August 23, 2007Pork Chop
Modern Noir At It's Best
When you think of film noir, you think of the wonderful dark movies made in the 1940's with thugs, and "dames", and vamps. I don't think there has ever been a better vamp than Linda Fiorentino in this movie. Lana Turner in The Postman Always Rings Twice and Kathleen Turner in Body Heat might come close, but first prize belongs to Linda for her performance as Bridget Gregory in The Last Seduction.
Bridget is a woman with a warm exterior that has ice water running through her veins, who believes in manipulating others into doing her dirty work for her. Great supporting performances by Peter Berg and Bill Paxton, but the movie belongs to Linda Fiorentino. You'll love to hate her in this dark erotic thriller that will take your breath away.Hee Chul Kwon on February 13, 2016
Remarkably stylish, heavily rooted in reality, interesting,The Last Seduction (1994) is remarkably stylish, with an intellectually mature story, heavily rooted in reality, even 15 years later.
May 16, 2009
Linda Fiorentino plays a Machevellian 30-ish woman, having the looks of a younger lady, with a classic beauty, very feminine and seductive in a number of different scenarios, but who uses precisely that attribute to her advantage in manipulating men, some of whom are weaker than others to her notable presence.
She starts out as a manager in a boiler room, overseeing high pressure sales reps pushing commemorative coins, but quickly sets her ambitions much higher, to bigger dollar amounts, in conjunction with her husband, played here by Bill Pullman, (who holds his own in terms of street smarts.)
She double crosses Pullman's character, wanting all of the loot for herself from a joint narcotics sale that went off.
Peter Berg plays a simple-minded, small town man of the same age, who is torn between his righteous upbringing, strong natural sense of morality, that is jeopardized by the behavior of Fiorentino's character. The latter demonstrating a megacity, hyper-competitive, largely-experienced, jaded, cerebral, cynical state of mind, in this particular case, of Brooklyn, with profits at any price, dog-eat-dog and so on. She combine thosetalents with her capacity to inflame Berg with her femininityspontaneously.
The visual aspects work well, for this particular movie, as aclassic style is exhibited by Fiorentino's character time andagain, such as by her gold watch, classic but provocativeclothes, with a few naked shots to boot, of both Berg andherself, emphasizing the over-extended libido felt by bothcharacters, at the same time as one their devious plans.
The criminal tendencies of Fiorentino's character aredemonstrated at the same time as her lack of rigor in her ownpersonal conduct: throwing off her wedding ring, spittingchewing gum on the street, licking a dollar bill, using a men'swashroom (not the women's), spontaneously having relationsanywhere (outside a club, in a car, on her office desk), usingprofanity, reaching for private parts, spitting out her food,extinguishing a cigarette on a pie, etc.) The character is alsoshown as having no notion of ethics, or of the policy ofconfidentiality touching upon client lists of her employer, asshe dreams up ways of making millions off life insurancepolicies she will manipulate.
From the above discussion, the movie is a success story in termsof style, with a tiny bit of voyeurism, for those appreciatingthe actress' classic beauty (looks, clothes, etc.) and apparentdown to earth present, yet sophistication, as compared to whatis the norm in the media.
While not a wide-screen release, the filming is spotless, themusic accompaniment is rooted in jazz, the story extremely wellarticulated, and relevant to today. There are no subtitles.
ONE OF THE BEST CLEVER NOIR FILM OF ALL TIMEI saw a lot of Film noir-famme fatal movies before and I can tell that this director must have seen hundreds of them. This is not an ordinary film noir at all. From <Kiss Me deadly> to <Lost Highway> there are so many movies out there about woman seducing man to kill her husband to be free from the husband cause she stole money from him and want to live a free life. She eventually wants to get rid of the guy that she seduced also.
Sounds like a typical to you, ha? No, not at all. This one is so clever and so fast phased that you will feel like watching a wonderland.
Linda Florentino was so amazing that you cannot hate her at all. She is sexy, clever, city smelly a prude but sometimes promiscuous unpredictable, if money involved she can do anything type of woman. We say her from the movie like <MAN IN BLACK> and horrible film like <JADE>. But she was never famous. What a shame.The director mostly directed TV dramas and he finally made this one time masterpiece and I am so glad that I accidantally had a chance to watch this.If you see this film, you will feel how cleverly the script had been written and each episode has been connected from one scene to another later.
Every moments were not wasted at all. Also charactor development are so great.
Linda, I don't even need to mention her, Bill Pullman is beyond his normal act, he is a poor guy and he knows that he was F** and he acted as such, Peter Burg is a naive nice guy who is a one track minded if he falls in love with one woman he goes with her all the way and we can see by his face instantly. I cannot think of other cast.
These three main actors are so perfectly chosen and that made this movie shined. The Jazz music made the mood of the movie stickier combined with rain.If you are or even are not a fan of noir films you will truely enjoy this film.
Try to find this film from any site since it is a rare film to find. You won't feel regret.
Anyong on July 22, 2014Great Film
The Femme Fatale takes on a central role here, in a decidedly feminist light (though not as feminist as Silence of the Lambs). Linda Fiorentino of course has found a character that she can fully breathe life into, but there are a number of well acted supporting roles too. This has Dean Norris in an early supporting role well before he rose to fame as Hank Schrader on Breaking Bad
ty_gi on June 4, 2014
One of Linda Fiorentino better performances. Something I notice is that she can play the schemer very well. This movie and Jade are two of my favorites.
James Lundstenon April 22, 2014
Linda is great
Linda Fiorentino gives a knockout performance as a woman who doesn't give an inch and takes it all. She is breathtaking and is she acting? i haven't a clue. She is that good-- and riveting. One of the sexiest performances in history. I love her voice...
S., March 24, 2014High-grade: sinister, funny, smartly paced, twisting dagger-like surprises.
Linda Fiorentino captivates as the ruthless, sociopathic wife of an enraged criminal doctor (Bill Pullman) hunting her down. Cold, aggressively sexual, brilliantly manipulative, calculating as a grandmaster in a chess match, Fiorentino's character is amazingly, creatively evil.
Viewers may not notice that the soundtrack references Fats Waller's "Everybody Wants My Baby." The song lyric continues, "But My Baby Don't Want Nobody But Me." When you see this excellent movie, the lyric will make perfect sense.
Last Seduction is a remarkable movie: funny, cruel, smart, and barbed with condensed surprises. After watching, I felt the tragedy as well. All that intelligence, calculation, expense of energy....for what? All for a tragic goal, although a tragic goal is not the same as a tragic ending. Poet W. S. Merwin nailed it with: "if we only knew, if we only knew what we needed, the stars would look to us to guide them."
Kram Nossungamon, August 30, 2013
We saw her in Men in Black and wondered what else she had done. This is IT! Steamy, seductive, ambitious and ruthless, she gets what she wants, and uses her femme fatale charm to get it. Think 'Body Heat' with more body and more action.
Linda Weisson, August 10, 2013
Fiorentino is a great villian!
This was not a big budget Hollywood film, but it has quite a story. Everyone in this movie is amazing, especially Linda Fiorentino! She is icy cold, and her character is simply fun to watch. There is a fine line between viciousness and almost black comedy. I wore out my video tape of it, so I bought the dvd. It reminds me of Blood Simple, another great "smaller" movie.
Seductive is right!
Andrew Ellington, VINE VOICE, August 7, 2013
When they created the term `Femme Fatale', they created it for characters like Bridget Gregory and for performances like Linda Fiorentino's. Seriously, this film is ALL ABOUT LINDA, and she delivers a tour-de-force that is one of the finest performances of the 90's, period. With a `take no prisoners' attitude and a strut that is sure to bring every man to his knees, Fiorentino doesn't pull any punches and instead creates one of the most memorable onscreen vixens I've ever had the pleasure of watching.
The film follows Bridget as she steals a ton of money from her husband after she pressures him into going into a drug deal with some drug dealers. She then flees New York for Beston and hooks up with a naÔve young man looking for a reason to feel better than he is and she winds up using him, first for pleasure and then eventually manipulating him into a murder plot against her husband, all the while keeping her new lover in the dark as to her true intentions.
Thank god no one copped out with that killer finale!
Fiorentino eats up every ounce of screentime here, delivering an iconic portrayal of a manipulative, destructive and selfish woman. She is pure evil, but the kind you can't help but salivate over. Bill Pullman delivers his best performance, at least that I've seen, and Peter Berg is effectively capture by Fiorentino's seductive ways. The plot twists towards the end (revealed secrets) are strangely enticing and keep the film interesting and the wrap us is just pitch perfect.
Not for the faint of heart, but certainly a worthwhile ride.
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