Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Dangerous Liaisons

"You'll find the shame is like the pain, you only feel it once."

Of the films I have watched in conjunction with this class, I have alighted some sort of sorted 80's reality. Often the reality is stark, as in Wall Street; or precautionary, as in Fatal Attraction; or allegorical as in Aliens. But, Fatal Attraction is historification at its finest: The film is set in Rococo France; the aristocracy have grown tired of their tedious days and they want some spice in their life. A period piece, yes, but stale, no, try sordid. Had it not been for the petticoats and breeches, I would have figured this film was in fact set during the 1980's (considering Keanu Reeves' ability to butcher beautiful prose, it's not a stretch).
The name of this 18th century game is "Lust. Seduction. Revenge." as so indicated by the film's apropos tag line. The tag line goes on to state, "The Game as You've Never Seen it Played Before;" I take contention with this statement. This entire semester, we have watched 80's films that deal in unethical, immoral, an illogical behavior and action: This is the game as we've seen it, time and time again. But, this does not discount the craft and cunning of this fantastic film. The games of cat and mouse, the witty banter that turns torturous and maniacal, the drawing rooms, the beds, so steeped in lust, feel as common as ever; it's purposeful, and exquisitely executed.

As the clip will indicate, the film deals entirely with the scheming of ex-lovers Valmont and Merteuil. As reviewers stated, "the filmmakers put the audience in the room with their characters." This is accurate and this is also intentional. If you found Glenn close frightening in Fatal Attraction, this little period films will have you knocking your knickers in minutes flat. Fatal Attraction called for a less than subtle portrayal of a woman falling into the abyss of self-pity, self-sacrifice, and self- mutilation. But Close's study of this character, Merteuil, is delicate and paced; she draws us in, she draws us in close. Before you know it, she's turned animal and clawed us to death.

Beautiful film all around. If anything, I hope the 80's never, ever repeats itself; Glenn Close was too frightening, John Malkovich wore too much make-up, and Keanu Reeves was still bad at acting.

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