Cruel Intentions (ExpDl Top 100)

“Whaa? Another in rapid succession? Truth be told, I actually watched this and Hostel 2 for blog purposes on Sunday. I just opted to delay write ups since I was already doing a couple that day. And I’d intended to do these yesterday while watching DWTS, but Mom’s arrival and subsequent grocery run took longer than expected.

Yeah, Mom’s here. Cause I’ve got knee surgery tomorrow. And then I’m immobile for at least a few days. That means LOTS of movies. I’ve got a stash of new (to me at least) DVDs and I should get one or two blog ones per day also. Bring it!

Cruel Intentions was a bit of a surprise inclusion on the list. I was going thru my list o’ movies and when I saw it on there, I had a sorta “”huh”” feeling. I hadn’t thought about this film in a while. So I threw it on the list of possibles. And it just sorta hung around. Next thing I knew, it made the cut. I think on some level I just wanted an excuse to watch it again.

This film was released around my freshman year in high school, and it was such a big deal for me at the time. I’m not sure when I first saw it, but I know I was still back there at home. I’d never seen such a sexy, seductive, and sinister film. It was the type that I had to watch in secret, far from my uber conservative parents. And I felt so dirty and guilty watching it. Hell, I still do. I remember being disgusted from the first trailer, with the implication of a possible step-sibling hookup. I knew that Ryan Phillippe’s Sebastian Valmont was a total womanizing pig, but like every other 16 year old girl (on and off screen), I was drawn to him. What he was doing was wrong, but it felt oh so right.

Phillippe’s not the only one who brings the sexy, but he does carry most of it. Sarah Michelle Gellar matches his intensity in a very anit-Buffy role as Kathryn. That was such a huge deal for her back then. It’s still impressive. The one who really caught my eye this time around was Selma Blair and Cecile. She nailed the bratty teenybopper perfectly. The eyerolls, the pouting, the sighs, the whining. And who can forget her kiss with SMG I also adore Joshua Jackson. Another waaaaay against type seeing woman-loving Pacey as flaming Blaine.

What really sent memories rushing back was the music, both the soundtrack and the score. The Placebo song at the beginning. The Verve at the end. C’mon, how many graduations or other HS ceremonies have you attended in the past ten years that used Bittersweet Symphony as their theme? Blame Cruel Intentions. The score itself is so hauntingly simple, but it just increases the tension, especially during the Sebastian/Kathryn scenes. I’d forgotten all about it, but now it’s stuck with me all over again.

This film is based on Les Liaisons dangereuses, a novel by Choderlos de Laclos, which has had several film and stage adaptations. I’ve seen the stage version twice. The first was a community theater group back home in Texas. The second was a professional production in Boston. The one back home tried to play it completely straight and series. I didn’t get it. I was pretty familiar with this film, but I found the play boring. I remember one scene in particular that was awkward and sorta unintentionally funny and strained. It had really turned me off on the play, but the Boston version had The Pretender’s Michael T. Weiss as Valmont. You have no idea how important that show was for me growing up, but that’s a story for another day. The point is I went to see this production, and they played it more as a dark comedy. It made so much more sense. That previously awkward unintentionally funny scene was purposely hilarious. It’s been long enough since I’ve seen the play that I dont know how much more appreciation it adds for me for the film, but it was still a worthwhile experience.

One final thought. We know I dont do romantic films. And except for maybe 10 minutes towards the end, this certainly isn’t. What it is is sexy. Pure lust. Hot and heavy. And dark as all hell. That’s what makes this standout.”

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