In 18th-century France, a cruel and calculating playboy, Valmont, makes a malicious wager with the equally wicked Madame de Merteuil: Valmont must dishonor the married Madame de Tourvel by sleeping with her. But when he sets out on his task, the unexpected happens–he falls in love with Tourvel.
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A lavish adaptation of De Laclos scandalous novel it serves as a lesson of how a film with high production values in art direction, made by a great filmmaker can reduce the novel into a harmless tale of seduction with no social bite or sophistication. It seriously suffers from some miscasting too and it is justly obliterated by Frears' version not to mention Vadim's unsurpassed one. Pity because there are merits.
I'm comparing this movie to DL and LLD. This movie was open, whereas DL was claustrophobic. DL wins. Colin Firth was charming, while John Malkovich was venomous. I actually preferred Gerard Philipe. Glenn Close was bold, which I preferred over Annette Bening. Still, Jeanne Moreau wins. Fairuza Balk seemed way too young and innocent, while Uma Thurman seemed more willing. Annette Stroyberg wins. Continued.
Less energetic and lush than the one directed by Stephen Frears, even with a younger and fresher, cast. Forman bets for a subtler approach and decides to concentrate solely on the tribulations of the character that names the film, finishing it before other characters' fate come to full circle. In my view, a controversial decision that gives the upper hand to Frears' previously released take on the same story.
While I agree with my MUBI friends that this film isn't stellar, I prefer the casting of Firth/Bening over Malkovich/Close in "Dangerous Liaisons" which came out around the same time (not that there was anything bad about the performances in Frears' film).
Jugement ambivalent sur ce film. D'un côté, ce qui rendait le roman intéressant et maléfique est disparu, ne laissant que des histoires absurdes de séduction, marriages et trahisons, dans un contexte victorien : très décevant. De l'autre côté, le jeu des acteur-trices est formidable dans ce film! En particulier, leurs mimiques et les traits dans leurs visages sont vraiment impressionnants ou troublants.
A la différence du film de Frears, le Valmont de Forman se regarde encore très bien 30 ans plus tard ! Cette adaptation subtile du roman de Laclos se révèle toujours fraiche et réaliste, tout en étant assez épurée, romantique. Alors que les exagérations de Frears, elles, sont devenue pathétiquement grand-guignolesques !