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Dangerous Liaisons (1988)

A scheming widow and her manipulative ex-lover make a bet regarding the corruption of a recently married woman.


Stephen Frears


Christopher Hampton (play), Choderlos de Laclos (novel) | 1 more credit »
3,634 ( 16)

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Won 3 Oscars. Another 17 wins & 20 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Glenn Close ... Marquise de Merteuil
John Malkovich ... Vicomte de Valmont
Michelle Pfeiffer ... Madame de Tourvel
Swoosie Kurtz ... Madame de Volanges
Keanu Reeves ... Chevalier Danceny
Mildred Natwick ... Madame de Rosemonde
Uma Thurman ... Cécile de Volanges
Peter Capaldi ... Azolan
Joe Sheridan ... Georges
Valerie Gogan Valerie Gogan ... Julie
Laura Benson ... Emilie
Joanna Pavlis Joanna Pavlis ... Adèle
Nicholas Hawtrey Nicholas Hawtrey ... Major-domo
Paulo Abel Do Nascimento Paulo Abel Do Nascimento ... Castrato
François Lalande François Lalande ... Curé


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 garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Lust. Seduction. Revenge. The Game As You've Never Seen It Played Before.


Drama | Romance


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

24 February 1989 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Relaciones peligrosas See more »


Box Office


$14,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$34,700,000, 31 December 1989
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


When the novel "Les Liaisons dangereuses" by Choderlos de Laclos was first published in 1782, it was considered so scandalous, that when Queen Marie Antoinette commissioned a copy for her personal library, she had to have it bound in a blank cover, so that no-one would recognize the author's name or title. See more »


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 »


Marquise de Merteuil: Ah! Madame de Volanges!
See more »


Referenced in There's Nothing Out There (1991) See more »


Organ Concerto No. 13 in F.
Written by George Frideric Handel (as Georg Friedrich Händel)
Performed by Leslie Pearson
See more »

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User Reviews

Lord and Lady Muck run amok
24 May 2015 | by jimbo-53-186511See all my reviews

Having been wronged by their former partners Marquise Isabelle de Mertueil (Glenn Close) and Vicomte Sebastian De Valmont (John Malkovich) hatch a plan to get even. Mertueil challenges Valmont to bed the soon to be married 17 year old Cecile de Volanges (Uma Thurman). Having determined that this challenge alone will be too easy for him, bed-hopping Valmont also sets about trying to seduce prim and proper Madame de Tourvel (Michelle Pfeiffer) whilst her husband is away. His prize for completing these tasks is Mertueil herself, but is all this as easy as Mertueil and Valmont hope?

Cruel Intentions was a loosely based remake of this film which came out 11 years later; I enjoyed Cruel Intentions the first time I watched it and have seen it several times since, but sadly I didn't enjoy Dangerous Liaisons quite as much.

I think the problem here is that I didn't find the story quite as involving; it was a bit talky for my liking and if truth be told it was probably a little over-plotted as well. In some ways, I was also a little turned off by the fact that it featured a bunch of rich aristocrats - I just found it all a little bit pretentious which is why I generally don't like period dramas. Dangerous Liaisons just seemed to amble along without ever really involving me in the story. Cruel Intentions told pretty much the same story in just over 90 minutes and one has to wonder why the writers felt the need for this film to run close to the 2 hour mark? The truth is that there just isn't enough material here to warrant that kind of run time.

Another problem I had here was that I never really felt any connections to any of the characters; they weren't really fleshed out particularly well and at the end of the day I just felt like I'd spent 2 hours looking at cardboard cut-outs in pretty costumes. I also had a bit of an issue with Keanu Reeves character; he was the music teacher in this and aside from his wooden performance, he added nothing to the film and may as well not have been in it (compare that to how important the music teacher was to the plot in Cruel Intentions).

Aside from an obviously miscast Keanu Reeves; the performances were all excellent with particular praise going to Malkovich, Close and Thurman. Thurman was perhaps the biggest revelation and I felt that she accentuated vulnerability and was actually very good.

The film doesn't even shine at the end and has a rather formulaic and obvious ending. To me the whole film just felt rather flat and un-exciting. I found the ending to Cruel Intentions to be moving and somewhat surprising.

Dangerous Liaisons has far too much polish on it for it to be a truly bad film, but it's also not involving enough for it to be considered a great film. I thought Cruel Intentions was a better film to be honest.

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