Dangerous Liaisons (1988)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Period Film, Romantic Drama, Erotic Drama  |   Release Date - Dec 21, 1988 (USA)  |   Run Time - 119 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom, United States  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Brendon Hanley

In the 1980s, director Stephen Frears made such diverse films as My Beautiful Laundrette, Walter and Prick Up Your Ears, but it's safe to say that Dangerous Liaisons was his most ambitious achievement. Frears was working with his first large Hollywood budget; the results were both a critical and box-office success. Liaisons is based on an 18th-century novel by way of a Christopher Hampton play, and at least four movies have been made from the original story. In 1959, Roger Vadim produced Les Liaisons Dangereuses; a year after Frears' version, director Milos Forman made the uneven Valmont; and 1999 saw the a teenage update, Cruel Intentions. Of the four, Frears' is arguably the best; his deliberate, restrained direction is reminiscent of Stanley Kubrick's work in Barry Lyndon. His version isn't quite as much fun as Vadim's, but thanks the stellar performances of Glenn Close and John Malkovich, the movie has a fresh coat of pernicious complexity to it. Frears went on to capture more fiendish elements of human relationships with his next film, The Grifters.