Updated adaptation of Choderlos de Laclos' classic 18th Century tale of seduction, betrayal and revenge set in the modern 1960s world of Parisian high society. The beautiful Madame de ... See full summary »
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Updated adaptation of Choderlos de Laclos' classic 18th Century tale of seduction, betrayal and revenge set in the modern 1960s world of Parisian high society. The beautiful Madame de Merteuil seeks vengeance against her ex-lover Gercourt when he becomes engaged to her young goddaughter, Cécile. Merteuil turns to her ex-lover/partner-in-crime, Valmont, famous for his reputation as a Don Juan, to seduce Cécile and emotionally destroy her. While on his mission, Valmont gets sidetracked when he goes to visit his aunt and falls for Madame Tourvel, a virtuous, married woman who knows of his womanizing ways, but that only makes the challenge more exciting to Valmont. Together, Madame de Merteuil and Valmont make a dangerous team and they will stop at nothing when it comes to matters of the heart. Written by
This mini-series is absolutely gorgeous. The director captures the essence of 1960s French Riviera without over-glamorizing, which is a good thing, because it is not necessary. The outdoor scenes (especially the horseback ones) are stunning. Costumes are very accurate and well thought out, especially for the female leads. LeeLee Sobieski looks alternately frumpy and seductive, just as most 18 year olds do in real life; showing a girl still figuring out how to present herself to the world. Deneuve's high society duds are probably the most spectacular, as they should be. Her character is draped in vivid reds and evocative jewelry. Kinski's clothes are virginal and chunky for the most part, as befits the wife of an ambassador...and yet her passionate exoticism cannot be held in check, and wins over repression in the end.
The storyline is the one we know well. I won't belabor telling it again. The mini-series was supposedly shot in both french and english language, but I did not find this to be true. I saw the english version. Some scenes were definitely shot in english, but others were simply dubbed...and it shows, which is too bad. If you rent or buy the DVD, I would advise watching it in french with english subtitles (if you can't speak french). Most, if not all, of Kinski and Everett's scenes in the english version were shot in english, while Deneuve and Everett's were mostly dubbed. In fact, there were only a few moments in the entire thing where Deneuve's lines were in english. For me, this created distance between her character and me as a viewer. Of course, her character is viciously evil and not one you would normally identify with, but villains CAN be empathetic. I did not find that here. Rupert Everett is slick and Machiavellian, with a slight vulnerability that is just right. LeeLee Sobieski is much more believable in this role than Uma Thurman was in the 1988 version. Nastassja Kinski, as Marie Tourvel, is the standout here. She does a marvelous job of representing the character arc (virginal wife to repentant adultress) that is required. Kinski wrote the book on portraying these kinds of heartbreaking roles (Tess, Magic of Marciano, American Rhapsody, The Claim...) and it is a shame she has been largely overlooked by Hollywood.
I highly recommend this mini-series, but watch the DVD in french with english subtitles, in order to get a better grasp of Deneuve.
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