Dangerous Liaisons (1988) Short Review

Dangerous Liaisons is one of the great costume period dramas, relying heavily on the actors’ performances and the grand setpieces.

It came out around the same time as “Valmont” and this is the one that got all of the accolades although I think “Valmont” was the better film in all honesty. The poster for this one states : “Lust. Seduction. Revenge.” But, the story is ultimately more about a come-uppance for bad behavior (“Valmot” on the other hand was more in admiration for someone who ignores the constraints of society). This is one of those films where the bedroom is the place where battles are won and lost.

The characters, especially Malkovich and Close, are almost cartoonish in their deliveries. It’s not nearly as subtle as “Valmont” is.This is the louder version of the story, relying on the characters being a little more over the top to provide the energy of the film.

Malkovich brings all of his larger than life weirdness to the role of Valmont and after playing the character as a bit of a villain, becomes somewhat noble by the film’s end.

Close fully embraces being the true villain of the story, the Marquise de Merteuil. Her final wordless scene is a pretty good one.

Thurman and Pfieffer are also good in this even if they are made somewhat incidental by the two bigger personalities of the film or maybe it’s just becuase their characters are more innocent and mannerly. This is the Hollywood version of the story. It is a GREAT film, and about the only negative I can say about it is that the casting is somewhat ‘by the numbers’ Hollywood casting. Keanu Reeves even turns up.

The sets and costumes are lavish and incredible to look at. It’s a fun film for fans of these types of period pieces. “Valmont” may have more to say than this version, though. This didn’t quite make my Top 10 of 1988 (for reasons I state there) but it did make my Top 100 of the 1980s.

4.5 of 5


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