Sog.: dal romanzo Le relazioni pericolose di Choderlos de Laclos. Scen.: Jean- Claude Carrière, Miloš Forman. F.: Miroslav Ondříček. M.: Alan Heim, Nena Danevic. Scgf.: Pierre Guffroy. Mus.: Neville Marriner, Christopher Palmer. Int.: Colin Firth (visconte di Valmont), Annette Bening (Madame de Merteuil), Meg Tilly (marchesa di Tourvel), Fairuza Balk (Cécile), Siân Phillips (Madame de Volanges), Jeffrey Jones (Monsieur de Gercourt), Henry Thomas (Danceny), Fabia Drake (Madame de Rosemonde), T.P. McKenna (il barone), Isla Blair (la baronessa). Prod.: Paul Rassam, Michael Hausman, Claude Berri per Renn Productions, Timothy Burrill Productions. DCP. D.: 137’. Col.
Between 1988 and 1989, two English- language films based on Choderlos de Laclos’ classic of 18th century libertine literature Dangerous Liasons arrived in cinemas. The first, directed by Stephen Frears from a screenplay by Christopher Hampton and starring John Malkovich, Glenn Close and Michelle Pfeiffer, was more successful and eclipsed the second, Miloš Forman’s Valmont, which was released exactly one year later. The subject of fierce criticism at the time, today the film can be revalued as a surprising, ill-fated film in the career of its author, fresh from the success of Amadeus. In Forman’s hands, the classic erotic intrigue, with diabolical ex-lovers Viscount Valmont and the Marchioness of Merteuil challenging one another to a game of seduction over the very young Cécile only to fall victim to their own tricks, becomes a lively dance with a melanchonic subtext. “I wanted to flesh out the characters. In Dangerous Liaisons, you don’t know what the characters have actually been up to. You only get to know what they write about later, in order to boast and manipulate others. All these characters have a very human feel to them. When you talk with other people, you tend to exaggerate things to seduce, impress, and inspire fear or empathy – as in a game. That’s the element I was interested in – not the historical recreation or an analysis of the aristocracy. I wasn’t convinced by most interpretations that are based either on the central characters’ wickedness or on some form of historical prophecy. I felt there was some deeper, more complex truth that I could better work out in a film” (Miloš Forman). Less composed and tragic than its companion, and rather more cheerful, Valmont is also a very lucid swansong to the ancient regime (Laclos’ novel dates from 1782). Merit for the film’s success is also due to the historical reconstruction, but above all to the screenplay, written in collaboration with Jean-Claude Carrière, and the two protagonists, Annette Bening and Colin Firth, who probably deliver their best ever performances.