Valmont is a 1989 French-American romantic drama film directed by Miloš Forman and starring Colin Firth, Annette Bening, and Meg Tilly. Based on the 1782 French novel Les Liaisons dangereuses by Choderlos de Laclos, and adapted for the screen by Jean-Claude Carrière.
A scheming widow the Marquise de Merteuil learns her secret lover Gercourt has discarded her and is about to marry her cousin's daughter - a virginal 15 year old Cécile. As revenge, the jilted Merteuil employs her ex-lover Vicomte de Valmont to seduce Cécile before her marriage to Gercourt so that the latter would be the laughstock of all Paris.
Meanwhile, after Merteuil learns Valmont is in the process of seducing a recently married honorable woman Tourvel, she and the womanizer take a bet.
Valmont received an Oscar nomination for Best Costume Design (Theodor Pištěk).
In 18th century France, the Marquise de Merteuil (Annette Bening), a beautiful wealthy widow, learns from her cousin Madame de Volanges (Siân Phillips) that Volanges' 15-year-old daughter Cécile (Fairuza Balk) has been betrothed to a middle-age man named Gercourt (Jeffrey Jones), Merteuil's own secret lover. The arranged marriage required that Cécile be raised in a convent to ensure her chastity. Angered over the hypocrisy of Gercourt's insistence on a virgin bride while keeping a lover of his own, his concealment of his upcoming marriage, and his slight of her character, Merteuil plans revenge.
Merteuil approaches her former lover, the notorious womanizer Vicomte de Valmont (Colin Firth), and proposes that he take Cécile's virginity before her wedding night to humiliate Gercourt. Valmont is not interested in seducing a child, whom he claims would be no challenge, but is pursuing Madame de Tourvel (Meg Tilly), a married woman well known for her virtue staying at the estate of Madame de Rosemonde, Valmont's elderly aunt.
Merteuil however, is determined to carry on her revenge. After a futile attempt to have Cécile's teenage music teacher, Danceny (Henry Thomas) who is in love with Cécile to take her virginity, Merteuil takes Cécile on holiday to Madame de Rosemonde's country estate, where Valmont had gone to pursue Tourvel. And there, without her intending to, while fulfilling her plan of revenge, she is also becoming the planning hand of Valmont's tragic destiny.
The plot of Valmont differs significantly from Laclos's novel. In the novel, Cécile miscarries Valmont's child, and at the end retires to a convent; in Valmont she is pregnant at her wedding. In the novel, letters between Valmont and Merteuil are exposed, and Merteuil is publicly ridiculed and humiliated; in Valmont, the letters are not mentioned, and Merteuil has no downfall except in the eyes of Cécile and her mother. She also does not suffer from the physical disfigurement described by Laclos in the denouement. Madame de Tourvel's future is less tragic: instead of dying of a broken heart, she returns to her forgiving and understanding older husband.
Vicomte de Valmont by Colin Firth: A frivolous womanizer who sometimes has sense of honor.
Marquise de Merteuil by Annette Bening: a cold hearted manipulator who is determined to get what she wants, even at the price of sacrificing an innocent girl who completely trusts and loves her.
Madame de Tourvel by Meg Tilly: a young woman who is both fortunate and unfortunate: unfortunate to fall deeply in love with Valmont who will never reciprocate her love, fortunate to have her understanding husband to go back to.
Cécile by Fairuza Balk, a 15 year old girl who likes adventure, but too young to know what real love means, and too docile to know what she really wants.
Danceny by Henry Thomas: The most beautiful character in the movie, and the only honorable person who is loyal to Cécile until her marriage.
The costume is designed by Czech artist Theodor Pištěk (born 25 October 1932 in Prague) who is known for creating photo-realistic drawings and paintings, movie costumes and decorations. He won the Academy Award for Best Costume Design for the film Amadeus, and received an Academy Award nomination in the same category for the film Valmont.
He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague as a pupil of Vratislav Nejezchleba. In the 1970s, after he left the career of a car racer, he focused more on painting and art installation.
He participated in around 105 films, and his works were exhibited at dozens of exhibitions around the world.
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