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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 <email@example.com>
The Lack of Suspense is Made Up for by the Cast & the Look
Neither Jean-Claude Carrière's screenplay, nor Milos Forman's direction could capture the suspense felt in the stage play by Choderlos de Laclos ("Les Liaisons Dangereuses"), or Stephen Frears' film "Dangerous Liaisons" with Glenn Close and John Malkovich in the two leading roles.
Notwithstanding, "Valmont" is a lush and beautifully filmed adaptation of this piece with a cast well worth watching the film for. Visually, I think I prefer Forman's film to Frears', and certain performances are more layered in "Valmont". Annette Bening's smile is so winning that you can truly believe how people are duped by it, which makes it all the more shocking when she shows her ugly side. This is not to say that she's better in the role than Glenn Close was - just different. Both performances are brilliant.
Colin Firth's Valmont is a killer: his charm and sex appeal are like a Venus flytrap...you know they're dangerous, but you can't help being sucked in by them. He ultimately plays this very difficult role with more subtle layers than the brutally devastating performance that Malkovich gave. His Valmont is ultimately more likable as a person, despite his dastardly doings. This makes it easier to forgive him in the end.
No offense to Ulma Thurman, but I really did like the young lovers in Valmont better than in Dangerous Liaisons: Fairuza Balk as Cecile is perfect. Thurman (who is a wonderful actress) looked a tad too old to play a 15 year old and therefore her naivety comes across a being slightly dumb. Balk looks the right age and just comes off as one would imagine a teenage girl of that time and stature would be. Henry Thomas as Dancey is just heads over Keanu Reeves.
One does sorely miss Michelle Pfeiffer as Madame de Tourvel, since Meg Tilly is just so unfortunately miscast in the role. Whereby you can certainly understand why she throws all precaution to the wind and starts an affair with Colin Firth's Valmont, you simply can't understand what he possibly could see in her bland approach to this complex character.
Dangerous Liaisons just has a better script with much more tension and suspense than Valmont, but give this one a look - you won't be wasting your time.
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