28 July 2005 | Polaris_DiB
After I watch a film, I tend to go online to see what other people had to say about it, merely out of a sense of curiosity. Most of the time other people's opinions are kind of odd to me, but they're interesting anyways. What I don't understand, though, is the negative reviews of Les Liasons Dangereuses.
This movie (or miniseries, as it actually were) was sitting on the shelf of my local library, and I had confused it with "Dangerous Liaisons", the 1988 film with Glenn Close that I had been told I "need to see." (I get told that often... one of the drawbacks to being a cinephile, as it were). My mother and I were confused when we looked at the tape and learned that it was so long... but we sat down to watch the entire thing anyways.
Soon we were awash in intrigue. Merely by accident, I had found myself immersed in a very dark albeit colorful world of deceit, with characters who's unexplained passion for destruction buried us deeper and deeper into a story neither of us actually knew anything about. I'm the type of person to pay a lot of attention to cinematography, directing, editing, and the like, but I forgot all of it as the acting and dialog took charge... especially dialog so well-spoken and clear that despite the fact I only have a couple years of French under my belt, I think I could have understood the film without the English subtitles.
However, even though I didn't focus on the cinematography and directing and editing the way I usually do, in retrospect, it was simply amazing. It's one of those works where every single frame is not only a beautiful still image, but every single shot has purpose and a point. Also, the movement of the camera is such that there's always this feeling of shifting... where, though, you never can tell, and it leads up to the next shot in the most amazing of ways. Sometimes, a character's face is hidden, and from reviews I've read of both this work and Punch Drunk Love, I can see that such a technique is not very popular with viewers... I don't understand why, if the face is hidden, it's for a reason, and this film definitely had it's reasons.
Thus my surprise when, after rewinding the tape and coming online, I see that this film only has a 6 star rating... and very many angry reviews about wasted talent. Well, I don't know what to say about that. My only explanation would be that the way the film sort of throws the viewer into the midst of the story without bothering with much build-up and character introduction kept people from really getting into it, and thus they didn't like it. Or a few mentioned that "Catherine Deneuve is too old for that role." Well, the thing about adaptations is that they aren't necessarily the original work, and in this version, Isabelle's maturity and aged elegance adds to the feeling of cold, pure evil that radiates from the two main characters. I think the fact that I didn't know what to expect is why I got more than I expected, so if you're wondering if you'd like this film, I'd say probably... unless of course you are familiar with the other works of Dangerous Liaisons. Then maybe you might not like it. I don't know.
All I know is that I'm having a very hard time imagining Glenn Close come even... close...(wow that's bad)... to the character that Catherine Deneuve created.