Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Valmont (1989)

Another attempt to film Les Liaisons Dangereuses.  Valmont was released just one year after Stephen Frears's Dangerous Liaisons, this time directed by Milos Forman.  This was Forman's next film after Amadeus and even brings along Jeffrey Jones, Ian McNiece, and Vicent Schiavelli to you remind you just how good Amadeus was.  Well, Valmont is no Amadeus.  In fact, it is not even Dangerous Liaisons.

The story is very similar.  This time, a very young Colin Firth tries Valmont but unfortunately is compared to John Malkovich from the previous year's film.  Firth is great, but Malkovich was Valmont.  There is also a very young and new Annette Bening as Marquise de Merteuil and she definitely pales in comparison to Glenn Close's Marquise.  Valmont is missing the bite and sting of the dialogue which this story is made for.  The verbal sparring between Valmont and the Marquise should be dialogue the audience remembers afterwards for its cleverness, but this iteration lacks the tension and the smarts.  Milos Forman could have easily used the same costumes and set design he used in Amadeus, but Valmont just seems lazy compared to that effort. 

For newcomers to this story, watch Dangerous Liaisons instead.  Watch Cruel Intentions for a laugh if you want the next generation's attempt at it.

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