Dangerous Liaisons is the film based on the novel of the same name by Choderlos de Laclos set in 18th century France. Marquise de Merteuil’s asks her ex-lover Vicomte de Valmont to seduce the future wife of another ex-lover of hers in return for one last night with her. Yet things don’t go as planned in this love triangle drama.
Director Stephen Frears’ sexy period film illustrated French 18th century one-upmanship, game-playing, seductive passion, betrayal and romantic intrigue. The film was remade as the hip Cruel Intentions (1999). The entire film was composed of a devilishly wicked challenge or treacherous game, a series of ‘dangerous liaisons’ involving other people’s lives, between:
Marquise De Merteuil (Glenn Close), a bored, aristocratic, wicked and wealthy widow
Vicomte De Valmont (John Malkovich), her rakish ex-lover
She challenged him to “Wa-a-a-a-r” – with her bed as the prize. She wanted him to vengefully seduce a virgin (the fiancee of her ex-husband Comte de Bastide). Valmont cruelly accomplished the bet – he seduced and ‘deflowered’ teenaged bride-to-be virgin Cecile De Volanges (Uma Thurman).
During his first nocturnal visit to Cecile’s bedroom, he stroked her body as she slept, and then claimed he was there as a result of her invitation with a key. He started out: “I just want you to give me a kiss…That’s all…Then I’ll go.” It was more than a simple kiss – he also stroked her breasts. He then complimented her: “Very nice.” But he would not leave – and then he began untying her nightgown. He made an under-handed claim:
Valmont: “I promised to go when you gave me a kiss. You didn’t give me a kiss. I gave you a kiss. Not the same thing at all.”
Cecile: “And if I give you a kiss…?”
Valmont: “Let’s just get ourselves more comfortable, shall we?”
Later, Cecile told the Marquise that she wasn’t actually forced to give herself up: “But I found it almost impossible to defend myself…He just has a way of putting things. You can’t think of an answer.” She professed: “I kept on saying no all the time. But somehow, that wasn’t what I was doing. I am so ashamed.” The Marquise told the seduced Cecile: “You’ll find the shame is like the pain. You only feel it once.” She then advised that she should allow Valmont to continue his “instruction” – and that she could become cautiously promiscuous: “You can do it, or not, with as many men as you like as often as you like in as many different ways as you like. Our sex has few enough advantages, so you may as well make the best of those you have.”
The next time with Cecile, Valmont stressed the need to use the “correct polite vocabulary” – calling everything by its “proper name.” And he described how he had been one of her own energetic mother’s many lovers. As he caressed her chest and kissed her breast, he promulgated the need for sex education for her future husband’s sake: “You asked me if Monsieur de Bastide would be pleased with your abilities. And the answer is, ‘education is never a waste.’ Now, I think we might begin with one or two Latin terms.”
At the same time, Valmont also proceeded to corrupt, by seduction, the religiously-virtuous, married Madame De Tourvel (Michelle Pfeiffer):
“I want her to believe in God and virtue and the sanctity of marriage, and still not be able to stop herself. I want the pleasure of watching her betray everything that is most important to her.”
Director: Stephen Frears
Tags: Dangerous Liaisons, Dangerous Liaisons Online, Free movies 1988, Glenn Close, Joe Sheridan, John Malkovich, Keanu Reeves, Michelle Pfeiffer, Mildred Natwick, Peter Capaldi, Swoosie Kurtz, Uma Thurman, Valerie Gogan