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  • As for how this production looks:

    This mini-series is absolutely gorgeous. The director captures the essence of 1960s French Riviera without over-glamorizing, which is a good thing, because it is not necessary. The outdoor scenes (especially the horseback ones) are stunning. Costumes are very accurate and well thought out, especially for the female leads. LeeLee Sobieski looks alternately frumpy and seductive, just as most 18 year olds do in real life; showing a girl still figuring out how to present herself to the world. Deneuve's high society duds are probably the most spectacular, as they should be. Her character is draped in vivid reds and evocative jewelry. Kinski's clothes are virginal and chunky for the most part, as befits the wife of an ambassador...and yet her passionate exoticism cannot be held in check, and wins over repression in the end.

    The storyline is the one we know well. I won't belabor telling it again. The mini-series was supposedly shot in both french and english language, but I did not find this to be true. I saw the english version. Some scenes were definitely shot in english, but others were simply dubbed...and it shows, which is too bad. If you rent or buy the DVD, I would advise watching it in french with english subtitles (if you can't speak french). Most, if not all, of Kinski and Everett's scenes in the english version were shot in english, while Deneuve and Everett's were mostly dubbed. In fact, there were only a few moments in the entire thing where Deneuve's lines were in english. For me, this created distance between her character and me as a viewer. Of course, her character is viciously evil and not one you would normally identify with, but villains CAN be empathetic. I did not find that here. Rupert Everett is slick and Machiavellian, with a slight vulnerability that is just right. LeeLee Sobieski is much more believable in this role than Uma Thurman was in the 1988 version. Nastassja Kinski, as Marie Tourvel, is the standout here. She does a marvelous job of representing the character arc (virginal wife to repentant adultress) that is required. Kinski wrote the book on portraying these kinds of heartbreaking roles (Tess, Magic of Marciano, American Rhapsody, The Claim...) and it is a shame she has been largely overlooked by Hollywood.

    I highly recommend this mini-series, but watch the DVD in french with english subtitles, in order to get a better grasp of Deneuve.
  • First and foremost, this movie is beautifully filmed. The art director obviously had a ball with the sets, clothing, and other period details. He or She put a lot more care and detail into every scene than I would have expected, and it's a delight to watch. I find myself peeking into every nook and corner-. And the cars! Even if this movie was terrible in every way, it would be worth watching (or skimming) just to see the 1960's Rolls Royce, Maserati, Bentley and other gorgeous vintage European cars. Divine music: Motown, blues and a bit of rock and roll. This movie intentionally moves at a slow, even pace, and the richness of the period details help keep the mind and eye occupied. I'm not exaggerating by much when I say that this movie could be viewed with the sound off. It's like looking at a high-end fashion catalog from the early and mid-1960's - if you like that sort of thing (which I do).

    Secondly, I think it's important to keep in mind that that this book was not originally written as either a morality tale or critique of ancien regime aristocrats. The fact that it's interpreted that way speaks only of our contemporary sensibilities. Valmont's death is pointless, and Merteuil loses nothing except her position within the demi-monde. Like Versailles the characters in this movie exist in an amoral plane. Common notions of morality simply do not apply to these aristocrats. The very rich (like the very poor), have nothing to lose.

    Third, this is a very funny movie if viewed with a certain amount of irony. I'm glad this version doesn't psychoanalyze the characters - Everyone is exactly what they seem to be. If the characters were complex and 3 dimensional, watching the slow sadistic manipulation, seduction and disposal of other lifelike characters would be unendurably painful. As it is, it's comical. I can only smile and laugh at their breathtaking cruelty. One of my favorite scene is when Valmont's aunt Rosamonde tells him that Tourvel has left because he is making her suffer so. Biting his thumb and with a look of sheer demonic glee he asks "Is she really suffering?" Very very funny. But only because he is, existentially, a predator and nothing else. The director studiously avoids delving beneath the surface of these characters. True to the source material, (and life at Versailles) appearance is the only reality.

    This movie is beautiful to look at, and it's a lot of fun to watch the audacity with which these cold, emotionally bleached aristocrats ruin others and themselves for no good reason (other than sheer boredom).
  • Shot in French, director Josee Dayan's `Les Liaisons Dangereuses' (2003) is the fifth film adaptation of the classic Choderlos de Laclos tale of amorality, deceit, revenge, betrayal, lust and love. In its extended 252 minute mini-tv series version, the film presents a reworked, coherent story reset into the 1960's. Because of awesome cinematography, a highly complementary musical score, and a first rate cast with superb performances from Catherine Deneuve, Rupert Everett, Nastassja Kinski, Leelee Sobieski and the supporting cast, `Les Liaisons Dangereuses' (2003) is a stellar integrated work that is candy for both the eye and the mind. All of the major characters have depth that is allowed to develop because of the mini-tv series format of 252 minutes (a lot longer than most films). This film is a rarity because it is entirely dialog driven. The editing is very tight and the film never drags. For mature audiences only, there is a look and feel to it that is absolutely riveting.

    There are three dvd versions available: (1) in French with English subtitles, (2) English spoken by the actors, and (3) the definitive extended 3 dvd set in French with English subtitles and an interview with the director. (1) and (2) are truncated 200 minute versions with anamorphic transfers. I saw `Les Liaisons Dangereuses' (2003) on (3) and this is probably the dvd to watch because of its gorgeous anamorphic transfer in a European 2.35:1 aspect ratio, although it is listed as an anamorphic 1.78:1 aspect ratio. (3) is the extended version with a total run time of over 300 minutes, including a 50 minute director's interview.
  • Polaris_DiB28 July 2005
    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.

    --PolarisDiB
  • I saw this on DVD, with French sub-titles (I'm learning French).

    I'm absolutely amazed at the number of commentators on this site who disliked this production. I've seen four versions of the work, and in my opinion this is by far the best. It is ravishing to look at, the story is compelling and presented with great clarity and sophistication, and the acting is outstanding. Yes, Catherine Deneuve was too old for the part. But she didn't look it, or act it; regardless of the date of her birth, she retains an allure that I for one would find difficult to resist if I had the honour and good fortune to meet her. As for Rupert Everett, who cares about whether he's used botox or not? He's got exactly the right sort of snake-like ability to fascinate and attract. And both of them can actually act. I think it's one of Catherine Deneuve's very best performances, probably because of the quality of the screenplay with which she had to work.

    I found it compelling from the very first moment, and I'm about to buy the DVD.
  • Catherine Deneuve has always been one of my favorite stars, she's been in more good films than most, is obviously a very intelligent woman, an iconic beauty who has worked with the world's best filmmakers, so I try to see her every movie that reaches Brazil (not so many anymore). But this unspeakably inept adaptation of Choderlos de Laclos' timeless classic seems to work only on two levels: as a jaw-dropper for lush costume design and as an involuntary cautious warning against plastic surgery!!

    Just see what lousy jobs those doctors have done with Deneuve and Rupert Everett! While Deneuve now goes into a kind of Joan Crawford territory, has difficulty in flexing her facial muscles and has mouth ticks, Everett has had so much Botox that his forehead shines like a surfing board, and he seems perfectly fit to play the creature in a Frankenstein movie. Incapable of moving any muscle from the tip of his hair to his chin, it was fun just to turn off the volume and wonder what "emotions" he was supposed to portray!!

    Lovely Nastassja Kinski is once again totally wasted (what's the problem? can't she get a better agent or isn't she interested at all in making decent films?) and likewise is wonderful Danielle Darrieux (who has aged so gracefully and is still beautiful in her 80s).

    Josée Dayan has worked a lot for French TV, and must be 1) a very good sport 2) a quick-shooting, budget-respecting, producer's dream kind of director. That's the only explanation I can think of to the fact that, whenever a French miniseries adaptation of a great writer (Cocteau, Hugo, Druon, Balzac, George Sand, Beaumarchais etc) with famous stars gets a green light, she gets to direct it. And she consistently gets to make them always blah.

    This is really bad, sorry to say, don't waste your time - especially if you're a fan of the stars. And God forbid those plastic surgeons!! My vote: 1 out of 10 (well, 3 out of 10 if you're in the mood for a mean laugh...)
  • genshman19 January 2004
    Oh Lord, this was really bad! You think with all those marvellous actresses and actors and this brilliant story, nothing can go wrong, but - they marred it completely.

    Starting with hilarious miscasting (Catherine Deneuve is far too old and not sensuous enough), over boring, wooden dialogue to incompetent camera work - there is one scene which has two of the leading characters talking to another, and you don't even get to see the face of one of them!

    Shifting the story into the present may be an interesting idea, but the script does not take the simplest care in adapting to this.

    See another version of this, the Stephen-Frears-film if you can. But do miss this one!
  • This version of "Les Liaisons Dangereuses" is, in my opinion, a very good 'modern' adaptation/expansion of one of my favourite stories. I liked the 1988 version very much. As an expanded version, this one was delicious.

    I didn't find the duel/contest to be very convincing. Having said that, I think this is my only negative criticism of the picture. I didn't bother to see the English version. The French version with English subtitles worked very well.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I've watched films with Deneuve since her youth. Seeing this one last night gave me a peculiar, PHYSICALLY uncomfortable sensation, because of what plastic surgery has done to her face. She now has enhanced lips that have lost their elasticity,the top lip is thicker than her normal one was, and a strange, pained expression is permanently onto the whole face, which is strangely immovable.

    My discomfort was because my eyes "expected" her face and mouth to make the familiar movements as her natural ones did pre-surgery. They did not, and this was taking my focus away from the movie.

    Rupert Everett was not believable in his role of the beautiful rake. This role demands the likes of a young Warren Beatty, or a young Alain Delon, or Olivier Martinez, or Clive Owen, irresistibly handsome and also irresistibly sympathetic and attractive (all the more lethal). Rupert was very unlikeable with no charm, a harsh expression on his face most of the time, and what was supposed to he at his most seductive, was totally soulless. Anyone who saw the very young Warren Beatty seducing Vivien Leigh in"The Roman spring of Mrs. Stone" will know what I mean.
  • jandewitt18 January 2004
    How could a big splashy TV-event starring the combined beauty of Miss Deneuve, Miss Kinski and Miss Sobieski and the reptilian charm of Mister Everett miss?

    By being rather dull and boring. Somewhat based on that stalwart tale of love, revenge, lust and hate 'Liaisons Dangereuse' the story takes place in a kind Swinging Paris and casts French Idol Deneuve as the Real Wicked Witch of the West. And that's the major fault of the otherwise adequate show: Miss Deneuve, looking alarmingly like Ivana Trump in decay, is much, much too old (and, I'm sorry to admit, old looking) to be credible as the most amoral woman this side of the Channel. Mister Everett fares a little better, but not much. Poor Nastasja Kinski! Once a glamorous and talented star she is relegated to a mere piece of furniture. And Miss Sobieski (said to be the great-great-great niece or something like that of Jan Sobieski, who defeated the Turks in the battle of Kahlenberg and so saved Vienna in 1683) appears rather frumpy and plumpy. No sings of her remarkable talent she demonstrated in the much underrated damsel-in-distress shocker 'The Class House' not so long ago.

    All in all: a monumental waste of time and money. Even Roger Vadim fared better with his less-than-adequate modern version of de Laclos' glum tale.
  • There is a literary work of the same name that also serves as title to this article (Les liaisons dangereuses or Dangerous Liaisons), which was written by the writer Pierre Choderlos Laclos (1741-1803) and published in 1782, with a plot showing the human miseries of the high classes as far as feelings are concerned. Broadly speaking, it is a story of seduction, betrayal and revenge, where perfidy is the dominant element of that society of nobles, where love is nothing more than a caprice or a temporary passion. The work has been taken to the cinema in several occasions, but the versions more known are the French one of 1959, directed by Roger Vadim with acting of Jeanne Moreau and Gérard Philipe; the British production of 1988, directed by Stephen Frears; and the third one, which is the subject of this article, co-production Canada-United Kingdom-France, in miniseries for TV (2003), directed by the Frenchman José Dayan, set in Parisian society in 1960. Dayan chose a first-class actress to play the role of the seductive beautiful Madame Isabel de Merteuil, Catherine Deneuve, an elegant woman from head to toe, with a very suggestive look and really attractive movements. The libido of any man rises when he watches the figure of this actress in this miniserial. His interpretation as an entity devoid of love, full of ambitions and selfishness is simply masterful. The other antihero is the Visconde Sebastian de Valmont played by the English actor Rupert Everett, who became famous as an actor previously with a supporting performance in the comedy "The wedding of my best friend (1997)" by director P.J. Hogan. Everett played well the role of another depraved, who boasted of his personal beauty. It is not a purpose to describe the plot of the miniserial, but especially emphasize that the performances of their actresses and actors were all well done, to the extreme that it seems that they are the same characters in the novel. The interest in following the novel increases with its development.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I love the book and I've seen almost all the filmed versions, from the Upper East Side setting of Cruel Intentions to the 2nd Korean version, Untold Scandal, but I have to say I was a little disappointed with this one.

    Firstly, I love Catherine Deneuve but I just couldn't take her in this role! The Marquise de Merteuil is only supposed to give the impression of coldness. Ms. Deneuve is a solid block of ice all the way through this film which makes it difficult to believe anyone would want to bed her much less enjoy it and even less be willing to give their lives for her! Contrast that to Glenn Close's portrayal in the Stephen Frears film and you'll know what I mean.

    And secondly there is poor Rupert Everett. If I could imagine the Vicomte de Valmont I would certainly have him look like Rupert but again his acting has just too cold! Going back to Frears, what made John Malkovich so perfect in the role was that he was so imperfect! John isn't classically handsome but he's charming and that is what he brings to the role. Even though we know the guy isn't hot we have no problem believing he can score with the ladies, even against their better judgment and numerous protestations, because he's just smooth like that! And what is more we feel badly for him when when he loses Madame de Tourvel and is betrayed by the Marquise.

    I never once believed Rupert's character felt any real pain. He just seemed like a big, handsome evil Robot! It would have made more sense and been less surprising had he just gone on a rampage and killed everyone in the movie! On a positive note, Rupert's French is beautiful, the soundtrack is marvelous and the costume design is fabulous!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    i've seen this mini series and thought i reminded me of 'cruel intention', and was surprised that this is actually a later adaptation (2003), the storyline of both these films are as i later discovered a 18th century tale. nevertheless, i found this adaptation quite disappointing when compared to 'cruel intention', especially as it is a later adaptation. the setting and general appearance of dangerous liaison looked more sophisticated (less Hollywood) and serious, but to the contrary, it lack the central idea of teaching a morality lesson, and definitely lacked cohesion. the counter part role of everett in 'cruel intentions' was by far more convincing and was able to gain sympathy from the audience. for the most part it showed that he really did care for the maria character and has shown genuine sincerity. However, in dangerous liaison, not only did he cheat right in front of her, even when he told her to forget about him, the maria character is still clinging onto him. it completely lacked dignity and made her look extremely stupid. the major aspect especially as death of the maria character. as in cruel intention, she does not die, but carrys the legacy of the Everett character. i personally thought that was a much better ending than seeing the maria character in a bloodbath and the everett character just falling into the cliff for no reason.
  • *** It is strange that I could have gotten them mixed up.

    But perhaps not really.

    I don't think Deneuve laughs or cries in 'Les Liaisons Dangereuses.' But the laughter I mentioned before in'Indochine'.

    I don't think I remember any laughter in 'Indochine.' It now comes back.

    Those sounds of Lalique were Deneuve's acting of weeping.

    It is a most oddly inhuman sound when she "cries" on screen.

    I wonder if her emotional range is limited to "great-actressy" sounds, because it is undeniable that she is a great actress.

    Yes, those sounds are DIFFERENT.

    They are parallel to the voices one hears that are mechanically produced and you hear them on the telephone.

    Somehow robotic, but the sounds of Deneuve crying are moving. They sound like someone who can't quite cry. There hadn't been room for it before, so the ability was lost for her.

    Or maybe they are the cries and tears of a kind of nobility. Maybe all her real grief is mute and experienced without any sounds, so that when she must weep in a role--and that weeping has to bow to convention in that it has to be heard as some kind of tears that a general public can understand as such--it inevitably sounds artificial.

    Her most convincing emotions are anger and disgust. Expressions of dissembling are frequent, but an unadulterated joyousness does not seem to be in her repertoire.

    We hear "French National Treasure" and we hear the inner revolt against this form of high machinic enslavement, a Deleuzian concept that can be found at the higher social levels just as at the lower. (I should have pointed out in my long notes on 'Les Liaisons Dangereuses', for anyone not familiar with 'Wild Palms', that I saw the former film in some ways an "heir" to the latter. 'Wild palms' was of course the Oliver Stone/Bruce Wagner miniseries of 1993, in which the Church of Synthiotics is a mutation of the Church of Scientology.

    'Wild Palms' was more obviously cyber-oriented than 'Liaisons', but the modernization of 'Liaisons', a thing I can rarely bear personally whether in theatre or opera, does here make the thing even more menacing, regardless of the fact, pointed out by other reviewers, that a few things just will not quite translate from the bewigged period.)