McHale's Navy: The Complete Series on DVD No 17Return to Sender on Blu-ray & DVD Sep 29The Phantom of the Opera with Lon Chaney Blu-ray & DVD Oct 13The Civil War 25th Commemorative Edition DVD & Blu-ray Oct 13Aquarius: The Complete First Season DVD & Blu-ray Sep 15Justified: The Complete Series on Blu-ray & DVD Oct 13The Surface on DVD, VOD, and DIGITAL HD Sep 1

follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

NE News Editor

American Music Awards 2015: Proximity to action matters...
Brad Pitt Says He's 'Angry' at the Finance Industry Aft...
Adele Speaks Exclusively on New Music:'The Most Poignan...
'The Walking Dead' reveals Glenn's fate ...
Adele Performs on Saturday Night Live: Video ...
Blacklisted: The Inside Story of Dalton Trumbo and the ...
Ryan Seacrest Confirms All American Idol Judges Will Re...
Fargo' Preview: 5 Reasons You Should Be Watching This S...
Bruce Willis makes Broadway debut...
Entertainment industry modifies plans after Paris trage...

Microsoft Store

Share: email   Print      Technorati.gif   StumbleUpon.gif   MySpace   digg.gif delicious.gif   google.gif   magnolia.gif   facebook.gif
Permalink: Permalink.gif

Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

Wellspring presents
Les Liaisons dangereuses (2003)

"I need you for my revenge."
- Madame de Merteuil (Catherine Deneuve)

Review By: Jon Danziger   
Published: March 14, 2004

Stars: Catherine Deneuve, Rupert Everett, Nastassia Kinski, Leelee Sobieski
Director: Josée Dayan

MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 03h:23m:23s
Release Date: March 16, 2004
UPC: 720917541624
Genre: foreign

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- BB-B+ C

DVD Review

It may be a couple of centuries too late, but Choderlos de Laclos should be sure to send his agent a fruit basket for all the work that's coming his way. Laclos's 1782 epistolary novel is the source material for this slinky French production, which is at least the fifth cinematic incarnation of the material—Roger Vadim's Les Liaisons dangereuses 1960 remains spry; the English-language 1988 version triumphs with Malkovich, and especially Uma Thurman and Michele Pfeiffer (and despite Keanu Reeves), with Christopher Hampton's bristling script; Milos Forman had a go at it with Valmont; and Laclos went back to high school with Reese, Ryan, and Buffy and their Cruel Intentions.

So why go at it again? Because it's a great, mean, nasty bit of business, featuring characters doing all sorts of horrible things to one another, in and out of the boudoir, for our amusement. Here the action has been pushed forward a couple of centuries, to allow the designers to run riot with the best of the 1960s; the story pretty much holds up, though. Rupert Everett plays Valmont, notorious womanizer—he takes virtuous women as a challenge, and considers the deflowering of virgins affianced to others to be part of his job description. His opposite number is Madame de Merteuil, played by Catherine Deneuve, a shark of a woman who uses her bedroom as a place both of delight and torture. There's one thing she sure doesn't like to hear, however, and that's "no." Decades ago, Gercourt more or less left her at the altar; Merteuil is shocked and appalled to learn that now he is to be married to Cecile de Volanges (Leelee Sobieski), young enough to be Gercourt's granddaughter, and Merteuil's own goddaughter. Valmont, then, is to be Merteuil's instrument of revenge: she asks him to rid Cecile of her virginity, and knock her up to boot. That way Gercourt wears the cuckold's horns, and the heir to the house of Gercourt will in fact be a Valmont.

Alas, things go awry. In order to keep his own inheritance in line, Valmont visits with his aging aunt, who has another houseguest—the beautiful and impossibly virtuous Madame de Tourvel (Nastassja Kinski), whose husband, in the diplomatic corps, has been dispatched to Africa. Valmont has no interest in shooting fish in a barrel—i.e., seducing Cecile, embarrassing Gercourt—in the face of a daunting challenge like Tourvel; and Merteuil is none too happy about what he's put at the top of his To Do list. Many, many hijinks ensue.

This isn't great or legendary stuff, and has the feel frequently of a soap opera—but then, people get attached to their stories for exactly this reason. So if what's here isn't an epic meditation on the human condition, it sure beats the tar out of a few weeks' worth of All My Children. The two leads aren't exactly miscast, but they each have some issues. Everett looks every inch the rapscallion, but my guess is that his French isn't very good, as the whole performance seems to have been looped. There's also a series of conceits layered into the source material that never really come off—I've never been convinced that Valmont truly carries some bizarre torch for Merteuil, or that he genuinely falls that hard for Tourvel. (Choderlos, get me rewrite.) Deneuve is now a woman of a certain age, and seems rather too old for this part, especially opposite Everett. (But hey, Catherine Deneuve at any age is always easy on the eyes.) Oh, and in case you were worried about this: an opening title card assures us that Mme. Deneuve wears Gaultier. Especially good in their more subsidiary roles are Sobieski, and Kinski, who is delicate and lovely as a woman at war with herself, virtue on the one hand, passion on the other. She's sincere without being sanctimonious, and towards the end particularly, is just heartbreaking.

The pace is leisurely, and you may find yourself many beats ahead of the story, especially if you've seen other versions—there are lots of scenes that begin with cars pulling into driveways, or people walking up flights of stairs. But there's so much that's luscious in the landscape, the costume design, and especially the vintage automobiles that you'll probably hang with it. (Wellspring is simultaneously releasing an even longer cut of this production, with yet another hour of footage—the story must crawl along there, but the clothes must be sensational.) Mores have changed some in the centuries, and we don't write letters like we used to, so Merteuil's comeuppance doesn't have the same sort of impact; still, there's so much here that's glossy and fabulous and snarky that just getting to see this story put through its paces in high style is entertainment enough.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The blacks are a little murky, and as the story goes on, director Josée Dayan's palette gets darker; toward the end, some of the images lack sufficient resolution to perceive them properly. Otherwise, it's a pretty clean transfer, with little or no debris.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Frenchyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Angelo Badalementi's score is moody and appropriate, and well balanced with the dialogue on both the 2.0 and 5.1 audio tracks.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 36 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual
Layers Switch: 01h:41m:31s

Extra Extras:
  1. DVD credits
  2. photo galleries
Extras Review: It's a slim package of extras, with a few bon bons, principally the weblinks—they're to fan sites for the principal actors (one each for Everett, Kinski, and Sobieski, and three for La Deneuve), and to the site of the distributor. Filmographies are for the four principal cast members and the director; the DVD credits are hidden under the Wellspring logo on the main menu. Also here is a 10% off coupon at an online DVD retailer, and a photo gallery, divided into two parts: one for behind-the-scenes shots, the other for production stills.

Extras Grade: C


Final Comments

An old-fashioned potboiler with a beautiful cast, swanky cars, and Catherine Deneuve in Gaultier. C'est magnifique!


Back to top

Search 10,000+ titles:

or Advanced Search


Get FREE Shipping on all orders at TimeLife.com! - 120x90


Microsoft Store


american music awards, talor swift, one direction, jennifer lopez, selena gomez, nicki minaj, justin bieber, movie, the big short, steve carell, ryan gosling, christian bale, michael lewis, brad pitt, music, adele, hello, 19, 21, 25, television, the walking dead, amc, davod alpert, glen, heads up, saturday night live, 25 album, skyfall, nrj awards, graham norton, herbert biberman, john howard lawson, lester cole, ring lardner jr., samuel ornitz, adrian scott, albert maltz, alvah bessie, edward dmytryk, dalton trumbo, reality, american idol, ryan seacrest, mariah carey, ellen degeneres, harry connick jr., keith urban, simon cowell, paula abdul, randy jackson, steven tyler, kara dioguardi, televison, fargo, fx, kirsten dunst, jesse plemons, jean smart, jeffrey donovan, bokeem woodbine, brad garrett, patrick wilson, celebrity, bruce willis, laurie metcalf, misery, broadway debut, paris tragedy, u2, foo fighters, steven spielberg, natalie portman, book, the diary of anne frank, otto frank, swiss foundation, daytime talk, 2000 shows, justin timberlake, jennifer aniston, sequel, animated, finding nemo, finding dory, disney-pixar, diane keaton, eugene levy, inventor, hedy lamarr, google doodle, ecstasy, samson and delilah, bbc music, angelina jolie pitt, by the sea, troubled marriage, mr. & mrs. smith, gwen stefani blake shelton, country music awards, the voice, miranda lambert, jon stewart, john oliver, hbo, wonder woman, nicole kidman, amazonian warrior, gal gadot, chris pine, nick lachey, 98 degrees, pot grower, ohio, nanette lepore, oscar robertson, frostee rucker, the red bulletin, james bond, daniel craig, naomi harris, bond girl, a. o. scott, 1977, star wars, elvis, beatles, sesame street, j.k. rowling, israel, palestine, culture for coexistence, harry potter and the deathly hallows, ricky gergais, 2016 golden globes, hollywood foreign press association, jessica biel, 2015 fashion group international night of stars gala, flip phone, the power of love, huey lewis, michael j. fox, back to the future, carrie, bipolar disorder, quinn, saul, jonas, comedy, lupus, chemotherapy, estrogen, lupus foundation of america

On Facebook!
Promote Your Page Too



Original Magic Dress.com

Susti Heaven

Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact
Microsoft Store