Dangerous Liasions
directed by Stephen Frears
(Lorimar, 1988)

Dangerous Liasions is based on a play by Christopher Hampton, taken from the 1782 novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Choderlos De Laclos. It is difficult to imagine how society could accept this novel in that era. It is quite risquŽ. The movie is set in 18th-century Baroque France among the high society aristocrats.

Glenn Close is outstanding as the Marquise de Merteuil, the most evil woman to ever plague mankind. You have to love her, though. When she explains how she evolved from an innocent girl to a totally manipulative, treacherous woman, you will feel pity for all women. She has climbed to the ultimate position of power within her society and openly toys with the people around her. Close pulls off this role of Grand Matriarch to absolute perfection!

John Malkovich stars in the role of Vicomte de Valmont, a man who does nothing but try to bed the most challenging women. To him, it is all a big game. He wants nothing to do with any woman that would not pose multiple obstacles. Everyone is a pawn in his sexual conquest game and he has no concept of the meaning of friendship.

Michelle Pfeiffer (Madame de Tourvel), Swoosie Kurtz (Madame de Volanges), Uma Thurman (Cecile de Volanges) and Keanu Reeves (Chevalier Danceny) all give exceptional performances. This entire cast is composed of exceptional actors. There is not one dud in the bunch -- although Malkovich did not impress me physically as a seducer of women. The movie pulls you into a spiderweb of deceit, deception, revenge and power plays at the very beginning and holds your attention until the end. It is magnificent.

There is a duel scene that will blow you away. I have never seen dueling take on such a "frenzied" nature. All poise and grace is gone from this fight. It is just thrust and parry to the max.

The costumes, sets and even the horses and coaches are superb. I was drooling over all the Baroque jewelry and dresses. If you like this era of history, this is a must-see film. I loved it and have to rate it among the very best movies available today.

- Rambles
written by Alicia Karen Elkins
published 1 March 2003

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