Cruel Intentions (1999) / Thriller-Romance
MPAA Rated: R for strong sexual dialogue and sexual situations involving teens, language and drug use
Running Time: 97 min.
Cast: Ryan Phillippe, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Reese Witherspoon, Selma Blair
Director: Roger Kumble
Screenplay: Roger Kumble (based on the novel, "Les Liaisons Dangereuses", by Choderlos de Laclos)
Review published September 5, 1999
Scheming step-siblings take delight in controlling the social lives of various students at a New York prep school. Sebastian (Phillippe, Playing by Heart) plots to seduce every girl in school, while Kathryn (Gellar, Small Soldiers) delights in tormenting ex-boyfriends and new debutantes in her school. One day, the two make a wager as to whether Sebastian will be successful in corrupting the daughter of the school's new headmaster, a staunch virgin who is wise to Sebastian's treacherous ways. Of course, things get a bit complicated when Sebastian begins to have feelings for his prey.
Yet another film based on the seemingly never-tiring "Les Liaisons Dangereuses" plot, updated for the kiddies of today. It's a good looking and moderately entertaining, but soulless and empty film that only begins to hit its stride about halfway in only to crash down again with a ludicrous and far-fetched "happy" ending.
Phillippe and Witherspoon (Overnight Delivery, Twilight) give commendable performances, with Gellar less than successful as the vamp. Still, it's an interesting take on the old formula and while never achieving the level of greatness it seems to aspires to, it does succeed as decent mindless entertainment.
©2002 Vince Leo