Choderlos de Laclos reportedly said of his epistolary 1782 novel, Les Liaisons Dangereuses
, that he created it with the intent to shock. That novel, on which British director Stephen Frears's first American feature film is based, did much of what Laclos hoped, the first edition becoming
the succes de scandale
of Paris. Frears's version, a costume drama set in pre-Revolutionary France, isn't precisely shocking, but its classic story of sexual power, depravity, cruelty, and deceit is rendered with force and without compromise.
The Marquise de Merteuil (Glenn Close) and the Vicomte de Valmont (John Malkovich) are monsters of the aristocracy, former lo...