Troy Patterson
August 03, 1999 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Cruel Intentions

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
Wide Release Date
03/05/99
performer
Selma Blair, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, Reese Witherspoon, Christine Baranski, Joshua Jackson, Swoosie Kurtz, Sean Patrick Thomas
director
Roger Kumble
distributor
Columbia Pictures
author
Roger Kumble
genre
Drama, Comedy

We gave it a C+

Here is Cruel Intentions, the fourth screen adaptation of Choderlos de Laclos’ ”Les Liaisons Dangereuses,” a novel derided centuries ago as ”a picture of the most odious immorality.” Director Roger Kumble treats its plot as the framework for a glossy exploitation film; he’s less concerned with exploring the souls of cynical libertines than with plumbing the nuances of teenage lesbian tongue-kissing. Phillippe’s Valmont and Gellar’s Merteuil are bratty Manhattan step-siblings who lay a carnal wager over whether he can waste the chastity of Reese Witherspoon’s little miss. The picture is odious, sure, but its first hour is so zippily titillating as to make for tasty trash. Viewers eager to gobble more of the same can tune in to the film’s TV spin-off, ”Manchester Prep,” this fall.

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