France before 1789: When a widow hears that her lover is to marry her cousin's daughter, she asks the playboy Valmont to take the girl's virginity. But first she bets him, with her body as prize, to seduce a virtuous, young, married woman.
In the mid-19th century, a mute woman is sent to New Zealand along with her young daughter and prized piano for an arranged marriage to a wealthy landowner, but is soon lusted after by a local worker on the plantation.
Young lovers Hero (Kate Beckinsale) and Claudio (Robert Sean Leonard), soon to wed, conspire to get verbal sparring partners and confirmed singles Benedick (Sir Kenneth Branagh) and Beatrice (Dame Emma Thompson) to wed as well.
In 18th century France, the Marquise de Merteuil and the Vicomte de Valmont play a dangerous game of seduction. Valmont is someone who measures success by the number of his conquests and Merteuil challenges him to seduce the soon to be married Cecile de Volanges and provide proof in writing of his success. His reward for doing so will be to spend the night with Merteuil. He has little difficulty seducing Cecile but what he really wants is to seduce Madame de Tourvel. When Merteuil learns that he has actually fallen in love with her, she refuses to let him claim his reward for seducing Cecile. Death soon follows.Written by
In Madame de Rosemonde's garden, Valmont sits behind Madame de Tourvel and asks "Why are you so angry with me?" The camera then cuts to a close-up of Tourvel's face, and Valmont is sitting much closer behind her. See more »
Vicomte de Valmont:
I want you somehow... somehow to get to see Madame de Tourvel.
I understand she's very ill.
Vicomte de Valmont:
That is why this is most important to me. I want you to tell her that I cannot explain why I broke with her as I did, but that since then, my life has been worth nothing. I pushed the blade in deeper than you just have, my boy. And now I need you to help me withdraw it. Tell her it is lucky for her that I have gone, and I am glad not to have to live without her. Tell her her love was the only real ...
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This movie is so incredibly well done, and all three lead characters are at their peak career performances. It is clever, funny, and tragic all rolled together, and one that you will be thinking about long after the movie is over. Of the three main characters, Michelle Pfeiffer has the least stretching to do as an actor, but her character calls for a demure, soft-spoken individual. John Malkovitch and Glenn Close are both deliciously malicious and carry the film well. Keanu Reeves is better suited for an action film - he appears wooden - but does a decent job, anyway. Lastly, Uma is refreshing and captivating, and plays opposite John Malkovitch without losing her identity. All in all, masterful, and visually and intellectually stimulating to watch. Still to this day it holds its' own in a world where action is the name of the game.
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