Dangerous Liaisons (1988, rated R, 119 minutes) is not a garden of delight.
If you aspire to a working understanding of good and evil, you could do worse than listen to the riveting chatter of the leading personae: the Marquise de Merteuil (Glenn Close) and the Vicomte de Valmont (John Malkovich). They choose each word with careful, deliciously ribald, austerely cruel, and domineering intent.
This is a boundless exposé of the worst elements—of human intrigue, self indulgence, hubris, vaunting egos, and careless poaching of souls—that masquerade as amour. Dangerous Liaisons is an ultimately degraded experience for both the characters and viewers, who must condemn the marquise and the vicomte for so many lives destroyed…death is an anticlimax in Dangerous Liaisons.
The marquise and the vicomte are burdened with a moral framework that shuns the absolute—they have unimaginably unsatisfied desires, and no intellectual imperative of right and wrong.
They swirl through their lives, casually jousting with each other as they amuse themselves in controlling the fates of other men and women, without realizing that they are not in control of their own fates.
The movie is based on a 1782 French epistolary novel titled Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Pierre-Ambroise Choderlos de Laclos, available in English translation.
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