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 »
With World War I, the Bolshevik Revolution, and the Russian Civil War as backdrop, it's an old-fashioned, blood-and-guts narrative, filled with earthly humor and a wealth of colorful ... See full summary »
F. Murray Abraham
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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
After I watch a film, I tend to go online to see what other people had to say about it, merely out of a sense of curiosity. Most of the time other people's opinions are kind of odd to me, but they're interesting anyways. What I don't understand, though, is the negative reviews of Les Liasons Dangereuses.
This movie (or miniseries, as it actually were) was sitting on the shelf of my local library, and I had confused it with "Dangerous Liaisons", the 1988 film with Glenn Close that I had been told I "need to see." (I get told that often... one of the drawbacks to being a cinephile, as it were). My mother and I were confused when we looked at the tape and learned that it was so long... but we sat down to watch the entire thing anyways.
Soon we were awash in intrigue. Merely by accident, I had found myself immersed in a very dark albeit colorful world of deceit, with characters who's unexplained passion for destruction buried us deeper and deeper into a story neither of us actually knew anything about. I'm the type of person to pay a lot of attention to cinematography, directing, editing, and the like, but I forgot all of it as the acting and dialog took charge... especially dialog so well-spoken and clear that despite the fact I only have a couple years of French under my belt, I think I could have understood the film without the English subtitles.
However, even though I didn't focus on the cinematography and directing and editing the way I usually do, in retrospect, it was simply amazing. It's one of those works where every single frame is not only a beautiful still image, but every single shot has purpose and a point. Also, the movement of the camera is such that there's always this feeling of shifting... where, though, you never can tell, and it leads up to the next shot in the most amazing of ways. Sometimes, a character's face is hidden, and from reviews I've read of both this work and Punch Drunk Love, I can see that such a technique is not very popular with viewers... I don't understand why, if the face is hidden, it's for a reason, and this film definitely had it's reasons.
Thus my surprise when, after rewinding the tape and coming online, I see that this film only has a 6 star rating... and very many angry reviews about wasted talent. Well, I don't know what to say about that. My only explanation would be that the way the film sort of throws the viewer into the midst of the story without bothering with much build-up and character introduction kept people from really getting into it, and thus they didn't like it. Or a few mentioned that "Catherine Deneuve is too old for that role." Well, the thing about adaptations is that they aren't necessarily the original work, and in this version, Isabelle's maturity and aged elegance adds to the feeling of cold, pure evil that radiates from the two main characters. I think the fact that I didn't know what to expect is why I got more than I expected, so if you're wondering if you'd like this film, I'd say probably... unless of course you are familiar with the other works of Dangerous Liaisons. Then maybe you might not like it. I don't know.
All I know is that I'm having a very hard time imagining Glenn Close come even... close...(wow that's bad)... to the character that Catherine Deneuve created.
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