Dangerous Liaisons

December 21st, 1988


Dangerous Liaisons

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Rich and bored aristocrats in Rococo France play high-stakes games of passion and betrayal.

Release Year: 1988

Rating: 7.7/10 (31,777 voted)

Critic's Score: 74/100

Director: Stephen Frears

Stars: Glenn Close, John Malkovich, Michelle Pfeiffer

Set in France around 1760, the Marquise de Merteuil needs a favour from her ex-lover, Vicomte de Valmont. One of the Marquise de Merteuil's ex-lovers, Gercourt, is betrothed to a young, virtuous, woman called Cecile de Volanges. The Marquise would like Valmont to seduce Cecile before her wedding day, thus humiliating Gercourt. Meanwhile, Valmont has a conquest of his own in mind: Madame de Tourvel, a beautiful, married, and God fearing woman. The Marquise doesn't think that Valmont can seduce Mme de Tourvel. She tells him that if he can provide written proof of a sexual encounter with Mme de Tourvel, she will offer him a reward: one last night with her. Valmont, however, will find himself falling in love with Mme de Tourvel, and facing the deadly jealousy of the Marquise de Merteuil. All along, Cecile de Volanges is used as a pawn in this game of sexual conquest and scorned love.

Writers: Christopher Hampton, Choderlos de Laclos

Glenn Close - Marquise Isabelle de Merteuil
John Malkovich - Vicomte Sébastien de Valmont
Michelle Pfeiffer - Madame de Tourvel
Swoosie Kurtz - Madame de Volanges
Keanu Reeves - Le Chevalier Raphael Danceny
Mildred Natwick - Madame de Rosemonde
Uma Thurman - Cécile de Volanges
Peter Capaldi - Azolan
Joe Sheridan - Georges
Valerie Gogan - Julie
Laura Benson - Emilie
Joanna Pavlis - Adèle
Nicholas Hawtrey - Major-domo
Paulo Abel Do Nascimento - Castrato
François Lalande - Curé

Taglines: Lust. Seduction. Revenge. The Game As You've Never Seen It Played Before.

Release Date: 21 December 1988

Filming Locations: Château de Champs-sur-Marne, Champs-sur-Marne, Seine-et-Marne, France

Box Office Details

Budget: $14,000,000 (estimated)

Gross: $34,700,000 (USA)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

The original Broadway production of "Les Liaisons Dangereuses" by Christopher Hampton opened at the Music Box Theater in New York on August 30, 1987, ran for 149 performances and was nominated for the 1987 Tony Award (New York City) for the Best Play.

Continuity: In Madame de Rosemonde's garden, Valmont sits behind Madame de Tourvel and asks "Why are you so angry with me?" The camera then cuts to a close-up of Tourvel's face, and Valmont is sitting much closer behind her.

Marquise de Merteuil: Ah! Madame de Volanges!

User Review

Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive.

Rating: 9/10

You wouldn't necessarily think that an adaptation of an albeit famous 17th century French novel would make a relevant and fascinating piece of cinema... but it does.

The first thing that strikes you is how well the film is lit and shot. The period locations and costumes are visually sumptuous and perfect. Better yet, the acting entirely matches the skill of the direction that takes its method from the theatre - emotions are conveyed by expression and not dialogue. Glenn Close gives her best performance on celluloid as the scheming Madame de Merteuil, amorally hellbent on bending everyone to her will, no matter the method or the cost, and John Malkovitch is her perfect foil as the cynical hedonistic but world-weary Valmont. Michelle Pfeiffer engages our empathy as the tortured and manipulated target of Malkovitch's desire and Close's plotting.

The film is basically a morality tale, but one that fascinates in its exposure of ego, vanity, intrigue and the war between the genders, subjects that are timeless in their relevance, despite the period setting. The storyline, which sticks faithfully to the original novel, remains compelling throughout as we watch deceits within deceits take their tragic course. Whole-heartedly recommended - take your time over it, and enjoy.


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