29 March 2004 | wrhayee-2
Totally Misses the Point
Milos Forman's version of "Les Liaisons Dangereuses" is really shocking, but for all the wrong reasons. In the original story two jades who are ex-lovers have nothing better to do than amuse each other with stories of their sexual conquests. They seduce and betray, then relish the pain they've caused. Their vicious games (They take the love out of love as someone put it) take an unprecedented turn when one of them actually falls in love with his current prey.
The two previous movie versions of this book were more than satisfying and entertaining. It was a relief to see two master debauchers meet their grotesque fates, and the irony of each of them being the cause of the other's ruin gave the story its final edge.
"Valmont" doesn't have an edge, much less a point. Milos Forman pulled all the teeth out of de Laclos' story and left us with nothing but mush. He does the same disservice to "Dangerous Liaisons" that the Demi Moore version of "The Scarlet Letter" did to Hawthorne, reduces it to pap.
I mean, you'd really have to be dense not to see how "Valmont" totally misses the point of the material.
The performers, even those who have been out of school a while, appear to be doing a high school play with very pretty sets. Colin Firth and Annette Benning are not at their best, but their roles have been reconceived to the point where they are soft and blurry; their games have no sting because they're sentimentalized. The rest of the leads either look like kids in a school play (Fairuz Balk and poor Henry Thomas) or sound like children (Meg Tilly).
Usually we think a certain movie sucks because it bites. This one is all gums and has no bite.