Cruel Intentions

I was watching Cruel Intentions for what must have been the hundredth time last night and as I was getting my head around it I noticed a couple of things.


Geeky Part:

If you’ve ever heard of Laura Mulvey or Jaques Lacan then you will find this movie very interesting if you watch it more closely – it plays with the gaze a bit in the sense that the subjects of the gaze are not always strictly passive. There’s a thesis chapter in that somewhere. One day I’ll elaborate further, but not now. 

Non- Geeky Part: (Relatively Speaking)

The other thing I was thinking as I was watching was that the story is not really that Hollywood. It’s just twisty enough to make a good film but it’s not Hollywood twisty, it’s novel twisty: the two are subtlety different.

So I poked around a little and it turns out it is an adaptation of the French novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses which was written by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos in 1782. Which puts it just before the French Revolution. Most of the film, it turns out, is adapted from the original novel including most of the characters’ names.

Watching the film I’ve got the feeling that it was a statement about the immorality of the ruling class. Now that I’ve traced the origins back to pre-revolutionary France, I’m pretty sure I’m right about the original author’s own intentions.

There’s also an interesting racial element to the film. Cecile’s music teacher Ron is black. He’s also a well-to-do cellist who lives on the Upper East Side. When Cecile’s mother, Mrs Caldwell, finds out about the love affair between Cecile and Ron, he correctly views her disapproval as the result of racist motives. There is an argument about “in this day and age” and so forth and she comes out with a great line about how she can’t be racist because she’s donated money to Colin Powell. He storms of down the hallway shouting “the black man is gone!” and we feel kind of sorry for him.

But then, later in the film. He starts a punch up with Sebastian after Kathryn spills the beans about everything. It was at this point that I thought to myself; wait – isn’t this perpetuating the violent black man stereotype after all? All the good that was done earlier in the film is undermined by that moment. Alas.

Seriously though, it’s a great film. Most people I know agree that it’s a good one. However I’m now hooked on it’s thematics so a trip to the bookstore is in order to hunt down a copy of the original novel. 

4 Responses to “Cruel Intentions”

  1. Essj4y Says:

    When you find a copy of the original book you mentioned can you please let me know?

  2. You just love having a medium for your inner monolouge to be unleashed don’t you…..don’t you.

    Posted from my iPhone while waiting for narfus at vector arena

    • compliancefiction Says:

      Yeah, and you know what? I don’t care if no one reads it; most of it’s shit anyway. But it keeps me off the street.

  3. Good stuff. Best movie I have seen in a while is Avatar hands down. That movie was well done and extremely entertaining. For any of you that have yet to see it, go watch it while it’s in theaters. You will not be disappointed.

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