DANGEROUS LIAISONS (STEPHEN FREARS, 1988)
HOW FAR our film culture has progressed can be illustrated by a comparison of these two movies. I suffered Cruel Intentions, the modern- day remake of Dangerous Liaisons recently, and I would love to see it back-to-back with Stephen Frears' version. It would be fun; it might also make you want to slash your wrists.
The new adaptation is shocking. It represents a cynical attitude to film- making, which harbours the belief that you can take any old story and set it among young teenagers. Why? The actors are less expensive and the films can make lots of money.
The young woman who plays Buffy the Vampire Slayer on the TV show of that name, Sarah Michelle Gellar, is the Glenn Close character, and Ryan Phillippe plays the Malkovich character.
It is an inept teen flick. Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer are fun and well-written. And kids have always acted in horror movies. But Cruel Intentions is your worst nightmare of a high-school production.
In film culture, it's alright to let the woman be evil incarnate. The Glenn Close character remains monstrous, while John Malkovich's character becomes far more sympathetic. Close's comeuppance is an unlikely scene; she is speaking at the funeral and a copy of her diary is circulated, revealing that she is a bitch and a coke-head. It's amazingly ham.
I surprise myself with how much I adore Frears' film. It has amazing restraint and stunning performances. It's also interesting to see the young actors play the parts in the remake; the girl doesn't bother at all, but the Valmont character steals Malkovich's line-readings.
Interview by Jennifer RodgerReuse content