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.


Milos Forman
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Colin Firth ... Valmont
Annette Bening ... Merteuil
Meg Tilly ... Madame de Tourvel
Fairuza Balk ... Cecile
Siân Phillips ... Madame de Volanges (as Sian Phillips)
Jeffrey Jones ... Gercourt
Henry Thomas ... Danceny
Fabia Drake ... Madame de Rosemonde
T.P. McKenna ... Baron
Isla Blair ... Baroness
Ian McNeice ... Azolan
Aleta Mitchell Aleta Mitchell ... Victoire
Ronald Lacey ... José
Vincent Schiavelli ... Jean
Sandrine Dumas ... Martine


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


As unpredictable as love itself.


Drama | Romance


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


The leading actors Colin Firth and Annette Bening were both at the beginning of their film careers and unknown to a wider audience at that time. See more »


When Tourvel is in the market she places several food items in her basket one after the other. However, every time she does so the basket appears empty even though she had just placed something in it a moment before. See more »


Valmont: Do you think a man can change?
Mertuil: Yes, for the worse.
See more »


References Amadeus (1984) See more »


Les Songes de Dardanus
Jean-Philippe Rameau
Performed by the orchestra of the The Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields
See more »

User Reviews

Annette Bening is fantastic
22 September 2004 | by MinneapolisJaneSee all my reviews

Annette Bening has proved again what a versatile actress she is. She positively emanates cruelty and perverseness in this film, but she is the epitome of sweetness in "American President" and fragility in "American Beauty." The pleasure her character takes in causing others' pain makes one easily imagine her reincarnated as a Gestapo torturer. Colin Firth is, as usual, handsome, charming, and believable. Fairuza Balk completely captures the confusion, excitement, and naiveté one would expect of a girl reentering the world after years in a convent. Meg Tilly shows a depth that I hadn't expected and Fabia Drake is wonderful as the hard-of-hearing, elderly, but wise, matron. The costumes and sets were exquisite and evoked the period completely. I highly recommend this for the performances and the ambiance.

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France | UK



Release Date:

17 November 1989 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Valmont See more »


Box Office


$33,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$96,008, 19 November 1989

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)| Dolby Stereo (35 mm prints)



Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »

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