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Dangerous Liaisons - How Dangerous Is This Liaison?
Dangerous Liaisons (DVD)
Member Name: anonymili
Dangerous Liaisons (DVD)
Date: 24/02/06, updated on 06/04/13 (83 review reads)
Advantages: Superb acting and story, elaborate costumes
Disadvantages: None really
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
Summary: A deliciously evil period romp with a star cast