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Dangerous Liaisons


Roger Davidson

Dangerous Liaisons
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Based on the controversial 18th-century novel, this is one of the most beautiful period pieces ever made. It stars Glenn Close and John Malkovich as the Marquise De Merteuil and the Vicomte De Valmont. They are two upperclassmen, who sexually manipulate everyone around them, just for the fun of it. One day, Close and Malkovich make a bargain. If Malkovich can seduce the teenage Cecile De Volanges (Uma Thurman) and the seemingly saintly Madame De Tourvel (Michelle Pfeiffer), Close will reward him with a sexual favor. Malkovich is up to the task, since he wishes to return to Close, who is one of his former lovers. However, when Malkovich accomplishes the huge task and wishes for Close to fulfill the bargain, Close (the more twisted of the two) chooses to deny him his "reward" and hold him under her control that way. But Malkovich is not so easily turned into a slave. The two eventually declare a psychological war, that will ultimately destroy both them and the people around them.

This movie features beautiful cinematography, superb art direction, a sure-footed directing job by Stephen Frears (The Grifters, Hero) and wonderful performances by the cast. The trickiest tasks are handed to Thurman and Pfeiffer, who change from relatively good girls to slaves of passion and sensuality in a blink of an eye. Malkovich also undergoes a transformation of his own, as he falls in love with Pfeiffer. He in turn starts to change from amoral to moral. Close on the other hand stays wicked and cunning from first scene to the very last. This is not a stuffy Merchant-Ivory costume drama. It is far more interesting. You should also check out this film's companion piece, Valmont.

My Rating = Four Stars

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