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A sexy, fun addition to the teen movie canon
Cruel Intentions (DVD)
Member Name: cerys82
Cruel Intentions (DVD)
Advantages: Well acted, very entertaining
Cruel Intentions was released in 1999 amogst a rash of teen movies, many of which were adaptations of other stories. Cruel Intentions itself is a modern day remake of the 80's film Dangerous Liasons, which in itself was set in 18th Century France.
Catherine (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Sebastian (Ryan Phillipe) are wealthy but bored stepsiblings, left to their own devices for the summer in a massive apartment by their parents. Sebastian has a nasty playboy reputation which he has no qualms with, whilst Catherine has an impeccable clean-cut reputation which she manages to maintain whilst hiding her rampant promiscuity and coke habit (the makings of which she keeps hidden in a piece of crucifix jewellery.) Between them they systematically plot and scheme to get their own way.
Catherine's much vaunted position as head of the student body at their exclusive private school brings her into contact with naive virginial ingenue Cecile (Selma Blair) and her overly ambitious mother who forces Cecille onto Catherine so that the latter can act as her mentor. However, Catherine has ulterior motives to taking Cecille under her wing as she has discovered that her former lover has changed his affections over to Cecille, and sets about ruining her foe's sexual reputation.
Meanwhile Sebastian, becomes 'sick of sleeping with these insipid Manhattan debuntantes' and sets himself on what he appears to be the ultimate goal- the new headteachers daughter Annette (Reese wetherspoon). Annette's social position is not the only reason that Sebastian is so desperate to pursue her; she has made a very public stance that she is a virgin and plans to remain so until her wedding day.
On learning of this, Catherine makes a wicked deal with her stepbrother- if he fails to sleep with Annette then Catherine will keep his car; if he does managed to sleep with Annette - Catherine will give him an unbridled night of passion - a notion that she has been teasing him with since their parents got married.
And so the games begin, and the two siblings plans intermingle and draw more and more people into their sordid mess.
First up, this is one of my favourite films. Where too many teen films are either too tame and insipid or broad and gross-out this is smart, funny, tense and above all sexy. The plotting is smart and takes a number of twists and turns along the way. It zips along at quite a pace with nothing to spare but does not feel lightweight either. It has a dirty mouth and just the right level of raunch to set it a cut above most other teen movies and does not chicken out either. There is a much vaunted kissing scene between Gellar and Blair which was voted at the Top Sexiest Moment by a Channel 4 poll a few years ago, however I feel that this scene (which is quite lengthy and gratuitous) is a little out-of-step with the rest of the film. There are a couple of scenes, one in particular between Phillipe and Gellar (they display fabulous chemistry throughout the film) which is much more intense without being at all explicit.
The performances are roundly great. Gellar and Blair are worth a particular mention (the latter providing a convincing comic foil to the wickedness of the two protagonists.)Joshua Jackson (most notably of Dawson's Creek) really makes an impact as a drug dealing accomplice to Sebastian's misdeeds. However, Phillipe's performance, which is what most of the film is pinned on can sometimes slip over into pantomime villain at times.
The soundtrack it has to be said is one of the best things about this film. It opens stirringly with Placebo's Every You Every Me and concludes with The Verve's Bittersweet Symphony. In between we also get snippets of tracks from Aimee Mann, The Cardigans, Counting Crows, Skunk Anansie and Fatboy Slim. It is one of the best movie compliations I know of, alongside Baz Luhrman's Romeo + Juliet and the CD, which I also own, is well worth tracking down. The incidental music for teh film is also good and appropriate.
Stylistically it looks great, and it is hear that it rather reminds me of the Gossip Girl TV series, even though this predates it by nearly a decade. Although it is slightly more adult - I think that this would appeal to fans of GG as it has a lot of themes and context in common.
Of course it is not the deepest film in the world but it does have things to say about sexual politics and the importance and fragility of social standing and reputation, even in these seemingly more liberal times.
*There is a US Theatrical Trailer
*A behind-the-scenes featurette - this is pretty unremarkable serving rather as a promotional puff piece
*2 Music videos - Every You Every Me by Placebo, Coming Up From Behind by Marcy Playground
*There are 5 deleted/extended scenes, each introduced by the director with reasons why they were not included and seeing them - I'm not surprised that they were cut! You do have to select them individually however - you can't just watch them all in a row.
An on-screen set of 'facts and filmographies' of key cast and crew
There is also a feature commentary by the director, but what I heard of this was not really that interested, this isn't really a film with massive hidden depths so it does not really stand up to massive scruitiny.
In conclusion, I think this is one of the best teen movies you could ever expect to see. It is of high quality, well acted and plotted. and has dated really well and its a shame that there are not more examples in the genre that are as good as this.
Summary: One of my favourite teen films