Many times a book is made into a movie time and time again. Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Choderlos ds Laclos has been made into a film no less than three times in the States (Dangerous Liaisons, Cruel Intentions, Valmount) and once in Europe (Liasions Dangereuses ) . In 1989 there was Dangerous Liaisons and Valmont and a decade later, Cruel Intentions. Dangerous Liaisons is, in quality, the middle of the three. Set in accordance to the novel in the mid 1700s, it is a tale of deceit, revenge and lust. The casting is incredible. Each character is played to perfection. The settings are a trip back to a more genteel age, an age of grace, style and formality where an undercurrent of desire lurks. The story centers around the machinations of two people, the Marquise De Merteuil and the Vicomte De Valmont. Each uses others as playthings, objects to enjoy for a brief moment and cast aside like a piece of waste at a meal. Add into this an innocent young girl, Cecile and a virtuous young woman, Madame De Tourvel and the plot thickens and begins to boil. A bet is made between Valmont and Merteuil about whether he can have his way with Tourvel. Merteuil also wants to destroy the intended husband of Cecile so they set out with plans so well laid out the CIA would be green with envy.
Playing the merciless Merteuil is Glenn Close. She brings a flair of elegance to a role where the character is totally without redeeming qualities. John Malkovich plays Valmont in his usual manner. He under plays the roles so much that you find yourself beginning to believe the lies he tells to obtain his objective. Uma Thurman plays the young girl. This role was among her first, she was only 18 at the time the movie was shot. She carries herself as if born to the role. A very young Keanu Reeves plays the music teacher that falls in love with Cecile. He is a bit flat in his role, especially since he is supposed to be a young man head over heels in love. The virtuous lady is well played by Michelle Pfeiffer. As always, her incredible talent augments her beauty. She glides through this role as if she was born in that time and place.
The director, Stephen Frears, is very good in the manner in which he handles the complex scenes, musical score and lighting. Every scene is framed like a picture, painted by a master of the era. For those interested, he has a gem of an independent film, the Snapper, about middle class Irish lass that becomes pregnant. Frears show quite a flair for the melodramatic which is most evident with some of the original score. Rather than keeping to period music some points of the movie are punctuated with music that would be more at home in a 1930s film noir.
The disc is very light on features. There are no commentaries and little in the way of any bonuses. The Dolby 5.1 sound is rich and surrounds you in magnificent sound. The surround speakers and sub woofer are under played being used mostly for ambience and a few off screen sounds. The video transfer is good from a technical viewpoint, especially in the many scenes filmed in extremely low light. There are no compression artifacts and the transition between light and dark is always smooth. There is a slight problem with the print used in the transfer. There are numerous scratches and lines that pop up all too often. Over all, the movie has a lot of merit. A cast that has just grown in fame, a timeless story and beautify sights and sounds. This movie is a keeper.