Cruel Intentions Review
By Christopher Null
From a raw material standpoint, you can't get much better than Dangerous Liaisons. Wisely, this 90's updating of Liaisons, Cruel Intentions, is quite faithful to the original. And woe be unto those who enter Cruel Intentions thinking this is a date movie.
The story so far: Kathryn (Gellar) and Sebastian (Phillippe) are spoiled, ultra-rich, rival half-siblings living in posh Upper East Side Manhattan. How does such a child while away the day? Well, sexual conquests of unsuspecting lesser-thans is a damn good start. On a whim, Kathryn challenges Sebastian to the ultimate test: deflower puritanical virgin Annette (Witherspoon) and he can have Kathryn as a prize.
Numerous side plots detract Sebastian from his goal, most notably the similar deflowering of the dim Cecile (Blair), and, of course, Sebastian falling in genuine love with Annette, for the first time in his life. Do things go badly? Well, we're talking about some very, very mean kids here. What do you think!?
Aside from a slightly happified ending, Cruel Intentions is an impressive movie. Solid dialogue, luscious characters, great comic relief, and an admittedly classic story give it wings above the standard teen-oriented dreck on the market. Placing the story 200 years ahead of its origin adds surprisingly little, though, besides an automobile, cell phones, and a reference to e-mail. Oh, and lest you be depressed by the film, you can sleep well tonight, comfy in the knowledge that--in real life--Witherspoon is pregnant with Phillippe's child. How's that for irony?
A final note for people who feel Cruel Intentions may not reflect the reality of what modern American teens are really like. If the chatty, giggling pre-teens (who had faked being 17 to get into the theater and were sitting behind me) are any indication of the reality, we should all be very, very afraid.
Selma gets sultry.
Facts and Figures
In Theaters: Friday 5th March 1999
Box Office Worldwide: $75.9M
Distributed by: Columbia Pictures
Production compaines: Cruel Productions, Newmarket Capital Group
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 49%
Fresh: 38 Rotten: 40
Cast & Crew
Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar as Kathryn Merteuil, Ryan Phillippe as Sebastian Valmont, Reese Witherspoon as Annette Hargrove, Selma Blair as Cecile Caldwell, Louise Fletcher as Helen Rosemond, Joshua Jackson as Blaine Tuttle, Eric Mabius as Greg McConnell, Sean Patrick Thomas as Ronald Clifford, Christine Baranski as Bunny Caldwell, Alaina Reed Hall as Nurse, Deborah Offner as Mrs. Michalak, Tara Reid as Marci Greenbaum, Swoosie Kurtz as Dr. Greenbaum, Herta Ware as Mrs. Sugarman, Hiep Thi Le as Mai-Lee, Charlie O'Connell as Court Reynolds, Fred Norris as Meter Maid, Ginger Williams as Clorissa, Drew Snyder as Headmaster Hargrove