Aneesh Chaganty

Movie #192 Dangerous Liasons

In Uncategorized on April 25, 2011 at 3:09 AM

Movie #192 Dangerous Liasons 

(1988, US, d. Stephen Frears)

About a quarter of the way through this film, I looked over at my friend I was watching the movie with and voiced my sudden realization. “This movie is all about a guy who wants to screw people”. Films set in 18th century England or France are often very difficult to get into, but I didn’t find that was the case with Liasons. In fact, it yanks you into the Shakespearean-like plot almost instantaneously. I won’t get into character names, because frankly, it would be just as confusing to you as it still is to me. John Malkovich, in a rare turn, plays the lead. More than that, he plays a “Casanova” of sorts – a player. A guy who will literally do anything to get into bed with as many women as possible. We are introduced to his character’s unrelenting nature early on. His want: to sleep with the strongest-willed Christian woman – not to make her denounce her views, but to watch as she goes against every single belief of hers to satisfy her own new lustful desires. Michelle Pfeiffer plays this Christian woman, and though I won’t mention whether or not Malkovich does, in fact, end up seducing her, she is by no means his only venture. At the same time, Malkovich pursues the engaged Uma Thurman, the elderly Glenn Close, and a bunch of extras. For some reason, we still find a way to sympathize with his character. Perhaps, it’s a male thing. Perhaps not. But maybe the Oscar-winning screenplay speaks for itself. Funny, smart, steamy, and romantic (to borrow a few Netflix keywords), Dangerous Liasons is surprisingly interesting. Though the arc at the end seems a little contrived and the last few scenes seem to be added just to gift-wrap the whole package, the movie does stand on its own despite it. It is a double-sided and a realistic look at the active life of a bachelor. Forget the stupid romantic-comedy flaws and set-ups. This movie feels legitimate when it asks the audience if it is, in fact, better to pursue a single life? Is it more fulfilling? But at what cost? Glenn Close’s character aptly states it in the beginning. To reveal that quote would be a tad unfair, so I won’t. Remade into the more popular Cruel Intentions, the film examines sex not as a goal, but as an arena for a battle of wits – provided wonderfully by Malkovich and Close.

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