Movie Review by Neil Sadler
Starring: Annette Bening, Colin Firth, Meg Tilly, Henry Thomas, Sian Phillips
Director: Milos Forman
VALMONT is Milos Forman’s (AMADEUS, ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST) take on LES LIAISONS DANGEREUSES, a story that has been turned into two other more successful films (DANGEROUS LIAISONS – the Stephen Frears’ Oscar winning version and the just as successful teen modern version – CRUEL INTENTIONS.)
Originally delayed so as not to clash with Frears’ version at the cinema, this tells much the same story although has a much lighter touch. Forman’s first film after AMADEUS, it highlights his strengths and weakness as a filmmaker. Keen to show all sides of the story and balance the heroic and villainous sides of people’s natures – the characterisation pales in comparison with Frears’ version. Forman’s version is less black and white than the others mentioned and so the overall effect is less powerful.
Perhaps it is unfair to keep comparing this and DANGEROUS LIAISONS but it is hard not to. Colin Firth and Annette Bening pale in comparison with the cruelty and passion of Malkovich and Close and although some of the lesser players – particularly Henry Thomas and Meg Tilly – give very strong performances, the film as a whole suffers from its lightness. A bit crueller and more dangerous and it would have been a stronger film.