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Dangerous Liasons was originally released in 1989 and directed by Stephen Frears. The movie stars Glenn Close and John Malkovich in the main roles and is based on classic novel. It's extremely entertaining nad worth watching if you've never seen it.
The movie itself takes place in the late 18th century in France just before the French Revolution. Glenn Close plays the beautiful and wealthy Madame la Marquise de Mertuil. She is someone who gets what she wants and doesn't care who she treads on to get there.
Her former lover and closest aid is Vicomte de Valmont played by John Malkovich. They are perfect for each other in many ways and both play games in order to fulfill their guilty pleasures. Valmont is a womaniser and can seduce any woman. He is in love with Marquise but can't have her. They are both wicked and devious. Glenn Close's character is fantastic at manipulating anyone she meets for her own desire and Valmont is the same. It is really like a game of chess between them as one makes a move and the other counters it.
So the main characters are these two. While he finds great pleasure in seducing women, she is a truly evil woman who plots and schemes to destroy the life of a very naive, innocent girl just to get revenge on her former lover.
I found the acting in this movie to be superb and although a great movie it does get a bit complex at times. Revenge, jealousy and deceit are the main ingredients in this plot. It becomes an intense ride throughout.
It is also very intriguing and there are some deep issues that are dealt with. There is an equal mix of pasion and pride, lus and jealousy and desire so it has everthing really. But the only emotion that seems to be lacking is love to be honest as everything they do is for revenge and their own pleasure.
One thing that can be said for this movie is that it's not light-hearted viewing but I would recommend it if you haven't seen it.
I cannot blow a horn too loudly for this film: it's a classic!
The book it is based on is a french classic too, but not having read it, I can't say just how closely it stays to it. Nevermind, it seems to have enough power in it, perhaps all the juicy bits....
On a big french theme: L'amour. A pretty universal theme too...
The pain of love is often too dramatic for films to cope with, but this one does.... Ok, it's a costume, period drama: but you will not be bored! I think I was a teenager when I saw this, and it stayed in my mind ever since, as a film I thought very mature, and mature watching. The best kind!
John Malkovitch (in his famous role), Glenn Close, Michelle Pfeifer, even young Keanu Reeves....this was an Oscar-snatching stellar film of the eighties.
Basically, the two central characters are artful in their dangerous manipulations and seductions of relationships: their own and those of others. But this will turn against them....
There have been other, modern interpretations of the book, but which have failed to come close to this one.
This is a long-lasting set-piece of film-making.
I feel so fickle writing these reviews sometimes as everything must seem like my favourite !! But if this had to go onto any of my lists it would be on my 'seen a million times but still enjoy' list. It has a wonderful mix of revenge, jealousy and poetic justice about it and is based on the novel "Les Liaisons dangereuses" (which I have never read so I'm unsure just how faithfully this movie keeps to the original storyline !!)
The main characters are the ridiculously arrogant and uber sexy Vicomte de Valmont (played by John Malkovich ), the pious and misinterpretated Madame de Tourvel ( played by the beautiful Michelle Pfeiffer, ) the bitchy and revengeful Marquise de Merteuil ( played by Glenn Close ), the easily led and innocent (-ish ) Cecile de Volanges (played by Uma Thurman) and the nice-but-dim Danceny ( played by Keanu Reeves.)
The story is a mangled web of lies, deceit, revenge, love and passion. Vicomte de Valmont has a love/passion for the Marquise de Merteuil and between the two of them they plan some revenge and challenges. For the Marquise de Merteuil she wants revenge on her ex husband and arranges for Vicomte to seduce her ex husbands wife-to-be ( Cecile de Volanges ) for utter humiliation. Vicomte has a challenge of his own however and that is to seduce the beautiful but pious Madame de Tourvel who is a woman famous in society for loyalty to husband and to God. However, whilst these 'games' are being 'played' Vicomte falls in love with Madame de Tourvel and vice versa, whilst Cecile falls in love with Danceny whilst being sexually educated by Vicomte. Marquise de Merteuil however is non-to-pleased that her once love/sexual equal Vicomte has fallen in love and goes about trying to end things. Her meddling does not stop there however and her actions result in a duel between Danceny and Vicomte. The movie ends on a poetic justice moment when Marquise de Merteuil is hounded from society for her actions and life will never be the same for many of the characters for one reason or another. Writing reviews is tricky when you don't want to give too much away !!
This movie is by far the best adaptation of the basic story and I think it's because it's in keeping with the original era of the novel. You can pick up a copy for about a fiver these days which is a bargain for such a great film and is rated a 15 which is about right due to scenes of a sexual nature etc. All in all, it's a classy cast and adaptation with lots of twists and turns to keep you enterained.
Dangerous Liaisons is one of my all time favourite films in the "period drama" genre. I've watched it at least a dozen times over the years and it never fails to entertain me. It runs for just under 2 hours so make sure you're comfortable as you sit down to watch.
Released in 1988 and directed by Stephen Frears, this film is based on the infamous novel LES LIASONS DANGEREUSES by Choderlos de Laclos and, subsequently, the Christopher Hampton play. The producers are Norma Heyman and Hank Moonjean and the screenwriter is Christopher Hampton. It's classified as 15 and rightly so as there are some scenes of a sexual nature.
~*~ CAST/CREW ~*~
Dangerous Liaisons stars Glenn Close and John Malkovich as the two evil protagonists and Michelle Pfeiffer as the innocent pawn in their malicious game of spite and sexual jealousy, with strong support from Uma Thurman and Keanu Reeves, as well as from Swoosie Kurtz and Peter Capaldi.
The film was released in December 1988 and was based on a play by Christopher Hampton which was itself based on a classic 18th century novel Les Liaison Dangereuses. The film was produced by Norma Heyman and Hank Moojean and directed by Stephen Frears. The music for the film was by George Fenton and the lovely cinematography was by Philippe Rousselot.
The film is set in France in the 1700s, and the Marquise de Merteuil (Close) wants her ex-lover the Vicomte de Valmont (Malkovich) to seduce Cecile (Thurman), the bride-to-be of her lover to ensure she is not a virgin on her wedding night and hopefully even pregnant with Valmont's child. To make matters more complicated, there's Le Chevalier Raphael Danceny (Reaves) who is the Marquise's younger lover (what we'd call a toy boy today) who falls in love with Cecile. Valmont also has another seduction planned, that of Madame de Tourvel (Pfeiffer) who is a married woman of extremely good virtue. He bets the Marquise that he can carry out both seductions and on written proof of his seducing de Tourvel, the Marquise promises to spend one night with him, a bet which he eagerly and willingly accepts. What neither of them counts on, though, is him falling in love with de Tourvel which leads to all manner of complications and jealousies and revenge planning and taking and death and destruction!!!
~*~ ANALYSIS ~*~
This is a deliciously evil period romp with a star cast who all manage to carry off their roles extremely well. Glenn Close, sitting at her vanity mirror at the start and end, is superb throughout the film. In the final scenes she says nothing but the expressions on her face portray what words cannot to absolute perfection. Her acting was superb throughout the film and her delivery of her lines was nothing short of excellent.
John Malkovich looked like he had a ball playing this real cad of a character that tries so hard not to fall in love with his victim but fails abysmally as you see him torn between admitting his love and winning his evil bet. One of the classic lines he delivers to the Marquise: "As for this present infatuation, it won't last. But for the present it is beyond my control..." it's delivered with such staunch sincerity that you cannot believe he is acting! Glenn Close had the pleasure of delivering this wonderfully evil line: "And I've succeeded because I've always known I was born to dominate your sex and avenge my own." Another line she delivered perfectly was "Adopt a less marital tone."
Michelle Pfeiffer plays the virginal (although married) Madame de Tourvel with perfect grace and dignity. I, personally, felt it was one of her best roles to date. Her innocent beauty seemed just perfect for the role.
Uma Thurman also played the convent virgin who gets seduced with great enthusiasm which made me smile and Keanu Reeves was initially hard to believe as an almost obsessive young lover but quite credible once he settled into the role.
The scenery in the film is mostly internal, at old period houses and the opera and in bedrooms of course. The costumes are extravagant and stunning. The background music is powerful and relevantly placed. The dialogue is mostly quaint except for between Close and Malkovich whose banter is amusing at times and shockingly evil at others.
There have been a few other versions of the "novel turned film" over the years notably Cruel Intentions (which starred Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe and Reese Witherspoon in the lead roles), an updated version set in a prestigious high school and Valmont.
Dangerous Liaisons won 3 Oscars for Best Art Direction/Set Direction, Best Costume Design and Best Writing/Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium and was nominated for a further 4 including Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress for Close and Pfeiffer respectively. Pfeiffer won the 1990 BAFTA for Best Supporting Actress for the film. The film also won a plethora of other international awards.
~*~ SUMMARY ~*~
This film shows the worst aspects of people's characters when it comes to using sex as a game and love as a weapon. You can easily see the adage "a victim of his own success" in Malkovich as he falls for the very person he was supposed to be using as a pawn in his game. You want to boo, hiss and cheer at the end of the film when the two protagonists get their just desserts but not in the way you might think...
NB: this review is also published by me on Ciao.co.uk on the same username
I have watched this film so many times over the years, on my own and with friends and I never get bored of it. Every time I see it I spot something I hadn’t noticed before. Adapted from Christopher Hampton’s stage play by the playwright himself, which in turn was adapted from the book Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Choderlos de Lacios, director Stephen Frears directs with beautiful style and skill. Set amongst the 1780 French aristocrats in their large frocks and frilly shirts, it is the characters of John Malkovich and Glenn Close who steal the majority of the screen time. For they are the pivotal characters from which a nasty web of deceit is spun. La Marquise de Merteuil (Close) and Le Vicomte de Valmont, past lovers, play dangerous games with each other – in order for him to sleep with her again he must get the woman he has set his mind on and give her written proof that he has had his way – only then will she give him his reward. And so he sets out to succeed. This is just the beginning of what turns out to be the biggest story of hate, cruelty, love, revenge, decadence, desire and out and out personal war. John Malkovich really came to light in this 1988 film – and rightly so. As the Vicomte he comes across as one of the sexiest, most loveable and cheeky, nasty pieces of work you could ever hope to meet. It is however Glenn Close’s finest moment, (in my opinion). The writing of is superb and Close makes the most of every word that is muttered, spoken or screamed out of her mouth. Their has never been such a believable nasty evil female character in modern cinema as this. Even when she is destroyed you can still feel nothing for hate for this loathsome woman. The rest of the cast also deserve full credit (apart from one which I will get to!). Michelle Pfeiffer as Madame Tourvel, the target of the Vicomte’s attention, is superb. Her actin
g is incredibly fine and it was this performance that I remember whenever I see her do something which maybe isn’t that good. It’s nice to know that she does have talent. Uma Thurman as Cecile Volanges also gives a nicely understated performance. But there are many others who help to make this film one of the best of its genre. My only problem with this film – and it’s not enough to ruin it – is Keanu Reeves. Why oh why did they think of casting him as the young lover. Thankfully he’s not in it enough to do too much damage, but it seems so odd to see him swaying around in his frock coat. He looks so uncomfortable and you can tell that he’s dying to say “Dude” whenever he does open his mouth. The film is faithful to the stage adaptation, and I believe that this is very close to the original story. All involved are genius! This is one of the best films of the last twenty years and it deserves to be watched time and time again. There is so much to it. The whole opening sequence of the man behind the mask and you know already that deception is one of the key elements to this film. Watch it, enjoy it, put it away and then a few months later watch it for a 2nd time. You'll never be dissapointed.
A sumptuously mounted and photographed celebration of artful wickedness, betrayal and sexual intrigue among depraved 18th-century French aristocrats, Dangerous Liaisons (based on Christopher Hampton's Les Liaisons Dangereuses) is seductively decadent fun. The villainous heroes are the Marquise De Merteuil (Glenn Close) and the Vicomte De Valmont (John Malkovich), who have cultivated their mutual cynicism into a highly developed and exquisitely mannered form of (in-)human expression. Former lovers, they now fancy themselves rather like demigods whose mutual desires have evolved beyond the crudeness of sex or emotion. They ritualistically act out their twisted affections by engaging in elaborate conspiracies to destroy the lives of their less calculating acquaintances, daring each other to ever-more-dastardly acts of manipulation and betrayal. Why? Just because they can; it's their perverted way of getting their kicks in a dead-end, pre-Revolutionary culture. Among their voluptuous and virtuous prey are fair-haired angels played by Michelle Pfeiffer and Uma Thurman, who have never looked more ripe for ravishing. When the Vicomte finds himself beset by bewilderingly genuine emotions for one of his victims, the Marquise considers it the ultimate betrayal and plots her heartless revenge. Dangerous Liaisons is a high-mannered revel for the actors, who also include Swoosie Kurtz, Mildred Natwick, and Keanu Reeves. --Jim Emerson