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Set in Baroque France, a scheming widow and her lover make a bet regarding the corruption of a recently married woman. The lover, Valmont, bets that he can seduce her, even though she is an honorable woman. If he wins, he can have his lover to do as he will. However, in the process of seducing the married woman, Valmont falls in love. Based on the same novel as "Dangerous Liaisons." Written by
Ed Sutton <email@example.com>
Milos Forman's version of 'Dangerous Liasons' was relegated to the second tier at the time of its release, which occurred close on the heels of Stephen Frears' version starring Glenn Close and John Malkovitch. I saw them both in the theatre when they were released and from the start enjoyed Forman's film far more than Frears'.
Annette Beining is a wonderful Madame de Mertueil, beautiful, intelligent, ruthless and in the end tragic. Glenn Close is pretty two-dimensional by comparison for Frears. And Colin Firth is more the laughing cavalier, with a heart, than was John Malkovitch for Frears, who mostly grimaces smugly and is highly distasteful and ego-centric. I liked Firth's sense of humor about himself, it makes the ending more poignant.
On paper some of the casting of Forman's version seems questionable, but all, except one, work very well. Most surprising was Henry Thomas's young lover. Thomas can be a dull actor but his reticent performance is apt for the gauche young man learning the ropes of 18th century Parisian society. Fairuza Bulk is delightful and funny as the virginal Céline. The supporting cast, notably Fabia Drake's dotty old Madame de Rosemond, are excellent. Siân Philips and Jeffrey Jones provide some very funny moments, though their characters are anything but "funny".
Only Meg Tilly falls short. Her American accent and modern delivery of the lines is disappointing. But she is a good actress and manages to convince in the end, though a more "Frenchified" performer would have served the story more effectively.
The music, cinematography and choreography are superb. The settings are very beautiful.
Forman's 'Valmont' deserves to be reconsidered by those critics who found it lacking when it first appeared.
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