Sophisticated, menacing, conniving, unpredictable, sharp and stunning; the relatively short filmography belonging to the elegant Linda Fiorentino is in no way an indicator of her enchanting abilities, being an actress capable of entering a character and igniting a realistic and wholly watchable presence.
The biggest hit she has featured in is undoubtedly Men in Black (1997), but in my opinion (which, whether you like it or not is what this piece is about), there are 3 films in which her brilliance shines the brightest and would be half as successful if not for her appearance: The Last Seduction (1994 – directed by John Dahl), Jade (1995 – directed by William Friedkin) and Dogma (1999 – directed by Kevin Smith). In each of these titles she found herself working with important, though inconsistent, directors and starring alongside more renowned talent (Bill Pullman in The Last Seduction, David Caruso in Jade and Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and Allan Rickman in Dogma), so it is entirely to her credit that she manages to outact and outclass the lot of them.
Below are the 3 characters she plays in the above films, ranked in order of excellence:
Mysterious trophy wife with her own private agenda, Trina draws the viewers gaze every time she appears and is made all the more complex when the movie’s twist hits. Jade was unfairly derided by critics upon release, and is still rarely discussed, but deserves so much more recognition thanks to Friedkin’s stylish, giallo-esque flourishes and, of course, Fiorentino’s smouldering presence.
Enduring a crisis of faith, as well as a subtle bout of depression and loneliness, Bethany finds her calling when the Angel The Metatron appears to her and bestows upon her a mission to save the entire universe from vanishing into nothingness… a task made even more troublesome when the “Prophets” sent to assist her are Jay and Silent Bob, Saint Rufus appears and she begins falling for one of the fallen Angels responsible for existence’s impending doom.
Despite all of this,throughout Dogma and its insane events she retains a cool, controlled persona playing the “strait man” and eventually reaches the ending having endeared herself to each and every viewer. A fantastic movie, a wonderful performance.
Simply sizzling. That’s the best way to describe Bridget, as she slithers through The Last Seduction devouring each line of dialogue and moment of confrontation in her path. She is controlling, dangerous and a complete enigma; a Femme-Fatal in one of the finest neo-noirs ever made.
This is must-see filmmaking with a faultless central performance and plot that just keeps twisting, it’s success entirely grounded upon Fiorentino’s damaging looks and capacity to overshadow such accomplished actors as Pullman and Peter Berg.
So if you’re looking for a new sub-genre to captivate and inspire you, the adult-minded catalogue of one of America’s finest should be on your radar, particularly if you enjoy pulpy thrills and have never seen The Last Seduction or Jade. Other titles on her filmography worth noting include: Martin Scorsese’s After Hours(1985), Beyond the Law (1993) and Where the Money Is (2000 – starring Paul Newman), but unfortunately that is about the extent of it.
Here’s hoping she soon returns with a vengeance.
Note: see my article on fellow underrated actress Angela Bettis here.