You Can Have it Both Ways: Deneuve and Close
Randolph Bradley | Los Angeles, CA United States | 08/01/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The good thing about this 2003 version is that I kept thinking it was "very current," but it is set in the 1960s. I mean to say that the evil theme and accompanying drama are ageless. The version by Glen Close and John Malkovitch is the standard to me. However, the Catherine Deneuve and Rupert Everett version shines uniquely in its own way. Thus, both versions are exquisite interpretations of a notorious story. This review is about the Short Version in English, not the long version in French.
I have read some reviews here and there on this version that say that Deneuve is not believable as a sex object. My response is that she could be if she was ever a sex object to you. For instance, when she acted in Belle de Jour, or when she was the face for Chanel Couture in the 80s. Thus, the vestige of that profound beauty is preserved in her slightly bloated body and weary face. To me, real beauty is that kind that ages, yet maintains some of the original vitality and aura of its former self. Catherine does this. Moreover, this production emphasizes how lust is absolutely enhanced by wealth, luxury, and power. It is then credible why teenage boys may want to have an affair with a woman old enough to be their mother. That phenomenon can be compared to drinking a 50-year-old cabernet or merlot. What wine connoisseur could resist???? Either sex, when precocious, appreciates instruction from a master. Valmont desires Madame de Merteuil because she is no longer accessible, because she is a master seductress, and not because she is sexy (although the average heterosexual male will find her sexy). She was a very rich, very powerful woman in Haute Parisienne society, which is comparable to heroin to some. Predators thrive on conquests.
Deneuve is splendid in her Gaultier costumes and, to me, she ages much better than did Grace Kelly/ Princess Grace.
There was a very aggravating flaw in the technical aspect of this version (the 200 minute English), as Catherine's dubbed dialogue always seemed to be one or two syllables off. I chose to ignore this.
Also, for the very bad human behavior, or Valmonts and de Merteuil's dangerous liaison, to be based on Madame de Merteuil's bitter jealousy makes perfect sense to me. First, Valmont and Merteuil are already "ruined" spiritually having been using people as pawns for a long time, and themselves being used, so there were no moral scruples that could have been expected of them anyway. In reality, evil for the sake of evil is perfect balance to good for the sake of good. You cannot have good without almost an equal amount of evil. C'est La Vie.
Note: An important distinction between the Glen Close and Deneuve versions is that Rupert's Valmont acts out his revenge against Madame de Merteuil in greater detail than did Malkovitch's Valmont. Rupert systematically moves among the other characters in an attempt to redeem himself particularly for the damage done to innocent Marie Tourvel (Nastassja Kinski), whom he fell in love with unexpectedly (by fate) and foolishly destroyed by caprice.
Valmont/Rupert feels that death is a form of release from the torment of remorse and says: " . . . to bring about your ruin (i.e. Madame de Merteuil) has brought me no consolation. My proposal to be your friend or your foe was also meaningless, each individual is first a victim of himself."
If you can believe in Divine Retribution, then we can see intervention from God, who caused Valmont to fall in love with one of his victims during, perhaps, the most dangerous game he has ever played. So, ideally, he can never have the love that he would desire, because love is not a virtue suited for the wicked. I perceive it will be the most impossibly desired "concept" in hell by the damned, where longing will exceed the agony of fire. Christians know that Jesus values love, joy, peace, virtue, etc. greater than diamonds and gold. These are his treasure, and are jealously guarded. Christ allows lust (fake love) to proliferate among the wicked, but NEVER love.
I don't think I will ever be able or even want to seriously criticize any version of LES LIAISONS DANGEREUSES, as this story is a masterpiece that defines how we can sometimes get into a relationship easily that turns out to be impossible to exit without unseen personal damage or destruction.
Ivas A. Morgan | 07/18/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Je trouvais ce film bien réalisé, Catherine Deneuve est "trop" comme la salope maline et séduisante. Son rôle est semblable à celui qu'elle jouait dans "Belle de Jour" il y a 30 ans. Voilà pourquoi il est tellement dommage que l'histoire originale par Laclos ne se soit pas achevée. A la fin du film on a l'impression qu'il aurait dû être un autre rouleau.