Dangerous Liaisons (1988)
Marquise de Merteuil: When I came out into society, I was fifteen. I already knew that the role I was condemned to, namely to keep quiet and do what I was told, gave me the perfect opportunity to listen and observe. Not to what people told me, which naturally was of no interest, but to whatever it was they were trying to hide. I practiced detachment. I learned how to look cheerful while, under the table, I stuck a fork into the back of my hand. I became a virtuoso of deceit. It wasn't pleasure I was after, it was knowledge. I consulted the strictest moralists to learn how to appear, philosophers to find out what to think, and novelists to see what I could get away with. And in the end, I distilled everything to one wonderfully simple principle: win or die.
Marquise de Merteuil: You'll find the shame is like the pain, you only feel it once.
Vicomte de Valmont: It's beyond my control.
Vicomte de Valmont: You see, I have no intention of breaking down her prejudices. I want her to believe in God and virtue and the sanctity of marriage, and still not be able to stop herself. I want the excitement of watching her betray everything that's is most important to her. Surely you understand that. I thought betrayal was your favorite word.
Marquise de Merteuil: No, no..."cruelty." I always think that has a nobler ring to it.
Madame de Rosemonde: I'm sorry to say this, but, those who are most worthy of love are never made happy by it.
Madame Marie de Tourvel: But, why? Why should that be?
Madame de Rosemonde: Do you still think men love the way we do? No... men enjoy the happiness they feel. We can only enjoy the happiness we give. They are not capable of devoting themselves exclusively to one person. So to hope to be made happy by love is a certain cause of grief.
Marquise de Merteuil: When it comes to marriage, one man is as good as the next. And even the least accomodating is less trouble than a mother.
Marquise de Merteuil: One does not applaud the tenor for clearing his throat.
Marquise de Merteuil: Like most intellectuals, he's intensely stupid.
Vicomte de Valmont: I often wonder how you manage to invent yourself.
Marquise de Merteuil: Well, I had no choice, did I? I'm a woman. Women are obliged to be far more skillful than men. You can ruin our reputation and our life with a few well-chosen words. So, of course, I had to invent, not only myself, but ways of escape no one has every thought of before. And I've succeeded because I've always known I was born to dominate your sex and avenge my own.
Vicomte de Valmont: Surely I've explained to you before how much I enjoy watching the battle between love and virtue.
Marquise de Merteuil: What concerns me is that you seem to enjoy watching it much more than you used to enjoy winning it.
Vicomte de Valmont: All in good time.
Marquise de Merteuil: The century is drawing to its close.
Marquise de Merteuil: [said to Valmont] Vanity and happiness are incompatible.
Vicomte de Valmont: I ended by falling on my knees and pledging her eternal love. And do you know that, at that time, and for several hours afterwards, I actually meant it.
Cécile de Volanges: Are you saying I'm going to have to do
Cécile de Volanges: THAT with three different men?
Marquise de Merteuil: I'm saying, you stupid little girl, that provided you take a few elementary precautions you can do it or not as often as you like, with as many different men as you like, in as many different ways as you like.
Vicomte de Valmont: Why do you suppose we only feel compelled to chase the ones who run away?
Marquise de Merteuil: Immaturity?
Marquise de Merteuil: When one woman strikes at the heart of another she seldom misses, and the wound is invariably fatal.
Marquise de Merteuil: Tell us we should think of the opera.
Chevalier Danceny: Oh, it's sublime, don't you find?
Marquise de Merteuil: Monsieur Danceny is one of those rare eccentrics who come here to listen to the music.
Vicomte de Valmont: Now, yes or no? It's up to you, of course. I will merely confine myself to remarking that a "no" will be regarded as a declaration of war. A single word is all that's required.
Marquise de Merteuil: All right. War.
Marquise de Merteuil: My victory wasn't over her.
Vicomte de Valmont: Of Course it was. What are you talking about?
Marquise de Merteuil: It was over you.
Marquise de Merteuil: One of the reasons I never re-married, despite a bewildering range of offers, was the determination NEVER AGAIN to be ordered about.
Madame Marie de Tourvel: I'm beginning to think you may have planned the whole exercise.
Vicomte de Valmont: I had no idea you were staying here! Not that it would have disturbed me in the slightest if I had known. You see, until I met you, I had only ever experienced desire. Love, never.
Madame Marie de Tourvel: That's enough.
Vicomte de Valmont: No, no, you made an accusation and you must allow me the opportunity to defend myself! Now, I'm not going to deny that I was aware of your beauty. But the point is, this has nothing to do with your beauty. As I got to know you, I began to realize that beauty was the least of your qualities. I became fascinated by your goodness. I was drawn in by it. I didn't understand what was happening to me. And it was only when I began to feel actual, physical pain every time you left the room that it finally dawned on me: I was in love, for the first time in my life. I knew it was hopeless, but that didn't matter to me. And it's not that I want to have you. All I want is to deserve you. Tell me what to do. Show me how to behave. I'll do anything you say.
Vicomte de Valmont: Be careful of the Marquise de Merteuil.
Chevalier Danceny: You must permit me to treat with skepticism anything you have to say about her.
Vicomte de Valmont: Nevertheless, I must tell you in this affair, we are both her creatures, as I believe her letters to me will prove. When you have read them, you may decide to circulate them.
Marquise de Merteuil: Adopt a less marital tone of voice.
Madame de Rosemonde: [referring to the Vicomte de Valmont] What is true of most men is doubly so of him.
Azolan: It's all very well to be sorry now.
Vicomte de Valmont: Let it be. He had good cause. I don't believe that's something anyone has ever been able to say about me.
Vicomte de Valmont: [Armand, who is getting all of his possessions taken by the tax collector, stands in the presence of Vicomte de Valmont] Please, don't get up.
Armand: I have to. They're taking my bed.
[Cécile is startled by a sudden noise, Valmont gets up to investigate]
Vicomte de Valmont: It's only the wind.
[Cécile is gasping]
Vicomte de Valmont: Where are you? It's nothing to be frightened about.
Cécile de Volanges: Yes there is. I'm bleeding!