1994, Movie, R, 127 mins


It's no great surprise that Hollywood's first attempt to grapple with sexual harassment hinges on the ludicrous notion that it's something done by women to men. What is surprising is that producer-director Barry Levinson has resisted what must have been considerable pressure to contrive another FATAL ATTRACTION, turning Michael Crichton's best-selling corporate thriller into a quietly efficient entertainment gizmo that eschews cathartic violence in favor of lurking paranoia.

Tom Sanders (Michael Douglas), a married computer exec, believes he's in line for a promotion; instead, he's crushed to discover that his unctuous boss (Donald Sutherland) has passed him over for Meredith Johnson (Demi Moore), a coolly competent number-cruncher and, coincidentally, an old flame. When she seduces him during a private meeting, Tom suffers a last-minute attack of conscience and breaks things off mid-tryst, and an enraged Meredith threatens to destroy him. The next morning, he discovers that he's been charged with sexual harassment.

The screenplay, by Paul Attanasio (QUIZ SHOW), is a distinct improvement on Crichton's one-dimensional, humorless potboiler. Besides adding some cleverly positioned laugh lines, Attanasio complicates the hero's motives and moral standing. In the end, though, the movie comes closest to thematic coherence, and the popular mood, in its depiction of something nearly everyone can relate to: the office from hell. In a time when job insecurity tops the list of American anxieties, DISCLOSURE's paradigmatic 90s workplace--a ruthless, conspiratorial, profit-driven nightmare--will speak to viewers much more clearly than its fatuous take on sexual harassment. leave a comment

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