Dangerous Liaisons

1988 film by Stephen Frears

Dangerous Liaisons is a 1988 film, set in France around 1760-1770, in which a scheming widow and her ex-lover make a bet regarding the corruption of a recently married woman. The ex-lover, Valmont, bets that he can seduce her even though she is an honorable woman. If he wins, he can have his ex-lover to do with as he will.

Directed by Stephen Frears. Written by Christopher Hampton, based on his play, which in turn is based on the classic eighteenth-century novel Les Liaisons dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos.

Vicomte de Valmont edit

  • I ended by falling on my knees and pledging her eternal love. And do you know that, at that time, and for several hours afterwards, I actually meant it.
  • And it's not that I want to have you. All I want is to deserve you.

Marquise de Merteuil edit

  • When I came out into society, I was fifteen. I already knew that the role I was condemned to, namely to keep quiet and do what I was told, gave me the perfect opportunity to listen and observe. Not to what people told me, which naturally was of no interest, but to whatever it was they were trying to hide.
  • You'll find the shame is like the pain: you only feel it once.
  • Like most intellectuals, he's intensely stupid.
  • When one woman strikes at the heart of another she seldom misses, and the wound is invariably fatal.
  • When it comes to marriage, one man is as good as the next. And even the least accommodating is less trouble than a mother.

Dialogue edit

Vicomte de Valmont: I often wonder how you manage to invent yourself.
Marquise de Merteuil: Well I had no choice, did I? I'm a woman. Women are obliged to be far more skillful than men. You can ruin our reputation and our life with a few well-chosen words. So, of course, I had to invent not only myself, but ways of escape no one has ever thought of before. And I've succeeded... because I've known I was always born to dominate your sex and avenge my own.

Vicomte de Valmont: You see, I have no intention of breaking down her prejudices. I want her to believe in God and virtue and the sanctity of marriage, and still not be able to stop herself. I want the excitement of watching her betray everything that's is most important to her. Surely you understand that. I thought betrayal was your favorite word.
Marquise de Merteuil: No, no..."cruelty." I always think that has a nobler ring to it.

Vicomte de Valmont: Surely I've explained to you before how much I enjoy watching the battle between love and virtue.
Marquise de Merteuil: What concerns me is that you seem to enjoy watching it much more than you used to enjoy winning it.
Vicomte de Valmont: All in good time.
Marquise de Merteuil: The century is drawing to its close.

Vicomte de Valmont: Why do you suppose we only feel compelled to chase the ones who run away?
Marquise de Merteuil: Immaturity?

Madame de Rosemonde: I'm sorry to say this, but, those who are most worthy of love are never made happy by it.
Madame Marie de Tourvel: But, why? Why should that be?
Madame de Rosemonde: Do you still think men love the way we do? No... men enjoy the happiness they feel. We can only enjoy the happiness we give. They are not capable of devoting themselves exclusively to one person. So to hope to be made happy by love is a certain cause of grief.

Vicomte de Valmont: Now, yes or no? It is up to you, of course. I will merely confine myself to remarking that a "no" will be regarded as a declaration of war. A single word is all that is required.
Marquise de Merteuil: All right: war!

Madame Marie de Tourvel: I'm beginning to think you may have planned the whole exercise.
Vicomte de Valmont: I had no idea you were staying here! Not that it would have disturbed me in the slightest if I had known. You see, until I met you, I had only ever experienced desire. Love, never.
Madame Marie de Tourvel: That's enough.
Vicomte de Valmont: No, no, you made an accusation and you must allow me the opportunity to defend myself! Now, I'm not going to deny that I was aware of your beauty. But the point is, this has nothing to do with your beauty. As I got to know you, I began to realize that beauty was the least of your qualities. I became fascinated by your goodness. I was drawn in by it. I didn't understand what was happening to me. And it was only when I began to feel actual, physical pain every time you left the room that it finally dawned on me: I was in love, for the first time in my life. I knew it was hopeless, but that didn't matter to me. And it's not that I want to have you. All I want is to deserve you. Tell me what to do. Show me how to behave. I'll do anything you say.

Cast edit

External links edit

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