I made a disturbing discovery this weekend. My teenage self was an unreliable narrator. How else to explain how I’d convinced myself for years, since first seeing the film on VHS, that Dangerous Liaisons (1988) is a story well-told? Was it the same misguided taste that led me to believe that Ponderosa Steakhouse was a place to get a superb meal?
My memory of this film is of a breathless, tightly-wound drama full of sex and intrigue acted by amazing thespians (Glenn Close, John Malkovich, Michelle Pfeiffer)Â in gorgeous period costumes. Clearly, my high school self was blown away. (It didn’t take much.)
But the cold (adult) reality? A horribly written mess with comical casting. The official summary of the film is, “Rich and bored aristocrats in Rococo France play high-stakes games of passion and betrayal.”Â My summary would be more along the lines of, “Rich and bored aristocrats try to keep themselves busy and, in so doing, change their motivation once every day or so, so often, in fact, that the viewer gets lost and bored and starts to concentrate on John Malcovich’s teeth and why they were not fixed if he was going to pursue a life in the movies.”