Sunday, June 12, 2011

Dangerous Liaisons

Year: 1988
Director: Stephen Frears
Writer: Christopher Hampton, Choderlos de Laclos (novel)
Genre: Drama: Romance

Dangerous Liasions is an adaptation of a play, which is in turn an adaptation of a novel: Les Liasions Dangereueses. I've never read the book or seen the play but I'm pretty sure the film uses 100% of the sentences from it. The way each character talks is very elaborate and play-ish, although thankfully understandable.

There was another adaptation of the play/novel in the form of another film called Cruel Intentions. I did something I usually find unspeakable, which was to watch a more recent adaptation first. It came out in 1999. However, it was such a wholly different film (placed in the modern era) that these two films are wholly separate even if they have the same exact base.

While I very much enjoyed Cruel Intentions when I watched it after viewing Dangerous Liaisons I've com to find I prefer this version even more. Unlike the more recent adaptation, it feels much less like a Hollywood movie and like an ornate play. It's able to draw you in despite sometimes confounding ways of speech and that is quite the accomplishment. I'm not sure how a modern movie-going audience would take such a film if it came out tomorrow, but there is definitely an audience to like it.  

I really like this movie. The incestuous themes aren't as outwardly nasty as they are in Cruel Intentions, but that huge plot point is still very much alive here. It's played in a more Victorian fashion though, which makes it easier to distance oneself from it. Either way, it's a fine film. I'd love to watch it again and even side by side with other adaptations to see who really captures the spirit best. Finally, I'll need to read the book.

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