Dangerous Liaisons (1988)



Critic Consensus: Stylish, seductive, and clever, Stephen Frears' adaptation is a wickedly entertaining exploration of sexual politics.

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Movie Info

Adapted for stage and screen several times over the past century, French author Francois Choderlos de Laclos' 1782 novel Les Liasons Dangeureuses was the basis for this Academy Award-winning Stephen Frears film. The plot is motivated by a cruel wager between the beautiful but debauched Marquise de Merteuil (Glenn Close) and her misogynistic former lover, the Vicomte de Valmont (John Malkovitch). The Marquise challenges Valmont to seduce the virginal Cecile de Volanges (Uma Thurman) before the girl can be wed. Valmont offers a more difficult counter-challenge: He bets the Marquise that he will be able to bed the very moral and very married Madame de Tourvel (Michelle Pfeiffer). In the course of carrying out his plan, Valmont is stricken with a sudden case of honor and remorse, while the Marquise becomes all the more vicious. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
R (adult situations/language, nudity, violence)
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Warner Home Video

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Glenn Close
as Marquise De Merteuil
John Malkovich
as Vicomte De Valmont
Michelle Pfeiffer
as Madame De Tourvel
Uma Thurman
as Cecile De Volanges
Keanu Reeves
as Chevalier Danceny
Swoosie Kurtz
as Madame De Volanges
Mildred Natwick
as Madame De Rosemonde
Peter Capaldi
as Azolan
Joe Sheridan
as Georges
Laura Benson
as Emilie
Nicholas Hawtrey
as Major Domo
François Montagut
as Belleroche
Harry Jones
as Armand
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Critic Reviews for Dangerous Liaisons

All Critics (28) | Top Critics (8)

This incisive study of sex as an arena for manipulative power games takes too long to catch fire and suffers from a deficient central performance.

Full Review… | February 8, 2008
Top Critic

The creepy plot still holds a certain fascination.

February 8, 2008
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

A sombre, manipulative affair in which the decor is never allowed to usurp our interest.

Full Review… | January 25, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Witty, entertaining, if occasionally overripe.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Director Stephen Frears accelerates entertainingly through Christopher Hampton's wig-and-powder sado-comedy about sexual mind games in 18th-century France.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Washington Post
Top Critic

Tantalizingly wicked -- watching it makes the color rise to your cheeks.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Washington Post
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Dangerous Liaisons


I love France in this time.... pretty dresses. I found it very intriguing and seductive. Proves once more Glenn Close is astonishing and that Keanu Reeves actually has had a good role in his life. WOW.

Jennifer D
Jennifer D

Super Reviewer

good plot JOHN MALKOVICH is a strange actor... he kept the same face the entire time!!! he never showed emotion evan when he died!

Morgan Salem
Morgan Salem

Super Reviewer


This is basically Elizabeth, if Elizabeth were an old slutty manipulatress. I know it's a good movie and technically impressive and all that shit that bodice-rippers always are, but these films always deal with the exact same themes. "lol the hidden strength of a woman" "lol the heart plays by no rules" "lol even the most dignified man is still a beast" Come on, now. Mix things up a little bit. The highlight of the film remains John Malkovich, a chilling sociopath who's out to ruin as many lives as possible just for personal challenge. His performance is a study in how to properly exude inexpressiveness - the perverse, confused smiles, and the declarations of love that are totally hollow even when he doesn't mean them to be. It is almost terrifying. Glenn Close is also capable, though the character is no new take on the Imperial Dragon Lady. Uma Thurman and Michelle Pfeiffer fade away, the latter especially surprisingly considering she picked up a Supporting Actress nod. And Keanu Reeves...*sigh* That performance in The Gift is looking more and more like a fluke every day. Anyway, Dangerous Liaisons isn't bad. It's just nothing special. Another example of the Oscars drinking the Period Piece Koolaid. There's a bit of humor, and a bit of nastiness and a bit of violence and a whole lot of lust, and it makes the movie watchable but nothing even remotely near art or auteurial. If you're not totally sick of these films yet, I guess this is a good place to go.

Drew Smith
Drew Smith

Super Reviewer

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