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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Valmont (1989)

In 18th century France, after discovering her lover (Jeffrey Jones) is going to wed a 15 year old virgin (Fairuza Balk), a wealthy widow (Annette Bening) asks her ex-lover (Colin Firth) to seduce the young virgin. He refuses but not before they make a pernicious wager, that he will seduce a virtuous married woman (Meg Tilly). But this is only the beginning of the emotional destruction that the malevolent pair bring about. VALMONT had the misfortune to be the second film based on Choderlos De Laclos' LES LIAISONS DANGEREUSES and released a year after the superior 1988 Stephen Frears film DANGEROUS LIAISONS. Though there's much to appreciate in Milos Forman's version (principally Bening's performance), VALMONT lacks the intense maliciousness of the Frears film. In addition, while the 1988 film was impeccably acted (well, maybe not Keanu Reeves), two performances here simply don't work. Firth's blobby Valmont and Tilly's anemic angelic wife don't generate any passion whatsoever so that their relationship seems manipulated and forced. Handsomely shot in wide screen by Miroslav Ondricek. With Sian Phillips, Henry Thomas (E.T.) and Fabia Drake.

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