By Lisa Schwarzbaum
November 18, 1994 at 05:00 AM EST

The Last Seduction

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Bridget Gregory (Linda Fiorentino), the lethal Natasha Fatale at the center of John Dahl’s stylish, slithery new bit of film noir, The Last Seduction, is the kind of magnetic man-eater Sharon Stone might give her pointy eyebrows to play. But she’d be too late: Fiorentino has nailed the territory. Her Bridget, a Camel-smoking swindler who dresses in kick-ass shades of black, white, and smoke-gray, is married to a New York City medical student-cum-drug-dealer called Clay (Bill Pullman), a creepy piece of work himself, who slaps ”Bridge” around once too often for her kinky tastes. So she steals a bundle of dough from his most recent haul, skips town, and gets as far as Beston, a small burg outside of Buffalo, where she pauses at a bar to plan her divorce or murder of her husband, whichever comes first. There she meets Mike Swale (Peter Berg), a pleasant, naive local guy, none too bright, with a secret in his past. Flick go Bridget’s fingers on the fly of his pants. Goinnnng go all of Mike’s marbles as he falls into her trap, a goner forever. Yowwww go the men in the movie audience, shielding their laps and popping their eyes. Hmmmm go the women who love them, taking notes.

The Last Seduction first aired a few months ago on HBO, as did Dahl’s previous film, the well-received sleeper Red Rock West. His brand of noir is cheeky: Dark things happen on all-American streets (in Beston, where strangers chirp ”Good morning!,” Bridget plots her treachery in a perky suburban split- level), and characters snap at each other, in an acid script by Steve Barancik, like discontented lizards. But the TV screen suits Dahl’s vision fine: For all its considerable, enjoyable verve and attitude, for all its sexy nastiness, this is a small-screen-size plot — and one that unravels precariously just as the antiheroine pries open Mike’s secret and closes in on her prey.

Still, my oh my, that Fiorentino: She can make even holding a pen look dirty. And she’s well matched in intensity by Pullman, Berg, and, as her shady lawyer, the always satisfying J.T. Walsh. Taking over Mike’s kitchen while he lies spent after their first night together, Bridget pulls out a plate of pie from the fridge as she talks to her lawyer on the phone. Bored, she smokes. Bored, she takes a bite with her fingers, then spits it back onto the plate. Bored, she hangs up the phone and stubs her cig out in the pie — right near the note on the dish that reads ”Love, Grandma.” Noshing was never so thrillingly heartless. B+

The Last Seduction

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