Liaisons Dangereuses, Les (1959)

Liaisons Dangereuses, Les (1959)

“Which of us molded the other?”

A French couple — Valmont (Gérard Philipe) and Juliette (Jeanne Moreau) — whose marriage revolves around seducing and then abandoning new “conquests” find their happiness compromised when Valmont beds a virginal teenager (Jeanne Valérie) whose fiance (Jean-Louis Trintignant) has been waiting patiently for her while pursuing his studies, then falls in love with a married woman (Annette Vadim) who sparks new feelings within him.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • French Films
  • Infidelity
  • Jeanne Moreau Films
  • Love Triangle
  • Roger Vadim Films
  • Sexuality

Roger Vadim’s adaptation of Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’ 1782 novel is an interesting entry in the cinematic annals of this scandalous story’s numerous iterations. Featuring a rich, jazzy soundtrack by Thelonius Monk, and upscale settings in snowy retreats:

… the action and settings have clearly been modernized, but the basic tenet of sociopaths using others for their own pleasure is as relevant as ever. Moreau and Philipe — in his final performance before dying at age 36 from liver cancer — are well cast in the lead roles as the master manipulators (here a married couple rather than friends, as in the novel) whose own sexual gratification revolves around their exploitation of others:

Vadim’s real-life wife Annette is appropriately tragic as Philipe’s most complex conquest:

… and Valérie and Trintignant are believable as a naive young couple whose lives are also changed forever by their involvement with Valmont and Juliette:

Fans of this harsh classic tale will want to check this version out — but/and should be prepared for a startling update to the story’s original ending.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Marcel Grignon’s cinematography
  • Thelonius Monk’s score

Must See?
No, but it’s recommended.


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