Dangerous Liaisons (1988) - full transcript

In 18th century France, the Marquise de Merteuil and the Vicomte de Valmont play a dangerous game of seduction. Valmont is someone who measures success by the number of his conquests and Merteuil challenges him to seduce the soon to be married Cecile de Volanges and provide proof in writing of his success. His reward for doing so will be to spend the night with Merteuil. He has little difficulty seducing Cecile but what he really wants is to seduce Madame de Tourvel. When Merteuil learns that he has actually fallen in love with her, she refuses to let him claim his reward for seducing Cecile. Death soon follows.

Well, my dear.
So how are you adapting to the outside world?
Very well, I think.
I've advised her to watch and learn and be quiet except when spoken to.
So we must see what we can devise for your amusement.
Valmont is here.
You receive him, do you?
So do you.
VOLANGES: Monsieur le Vicomte de Valmont, my child...
...whom you very probably don't remember...
...except that he is conspicuously charming...
...never opens his mouth without first calculating what damage he can do.
Then why do you receive him, maman?
Everyone receives him.
- Madame. - Vicomte.
VOLANGES: What a pleasant surprise.
Madame de Volanges. How delightful to see you.
You remember my daughter, Cécile?
Well, indeed, but who could have foretold she would flower so gracefully?
I wanted to call on you before leaving the city.
I'm not sure we can allow that. Why should you want to leave?
Paris in August, you know...
...and it's time I paid a visit on my aunt.
I've neglected her disgracefully.
Madame de Rosemonde has been good enough to invite us to stay at the château.
Won't you please give her our warmest regards?
I shall make a point of it, madame.
I think it's time we took you home.
I'm used to being in bed by 9 at the convent.
So I should hope.
Your aunt?
That's correct.
I thought she'd already made arrangements to leave you all her money.
Do you know why I summoned you here this evening?
I'd hoped it might be for the pleasure of my company.
I need you...
...to carry out an heroic enterprise.
You remember when Bastide left me?
- Yes. - Went off with that fat mistress of yours...
...whose name escapes me. - Yes, yes.
No one has ever done that to me before. Or to you, I suspect.
I was quite relieved to be rid of her, frankly.
No, you weren't.
For some years now, Bastide has been searching for a wife.
He was always unshakably prejudiced in favor of convent education.
And now he's found the ideal candidate.
VALMONT: Cécile Volanges.
MERTEUIL: Very good.
VALMONT: And her 60,000 a year.
That must have played some small part in Bastide's calculations.
MERTEUIL: None whatsoever.
Bastide's priority, you see...
...is a guaranteed virtue.
VALMONT: I wonder if I'm beginning to guess...
...what it is you're intending to propose.
MERTEUIL: Bastide is with his regiment in Corsica for the rest of the year.
That should give you plenty of time.
You mean to?
- She's a rosebud. - You think so?
And he'd get back from his honeymoon...
...to find himself the laughing stock of Paris.
- Well... - Yes.
Love and revenge. Two of your favorites.
No, I can't.
- What? - Oh really, I can't.
- Why not? - Oh, it's too easy.
It is. She's seen nothing.
She knows nothing. She's bound to be curious.
She'd be on her back...
...before you'd unwrapped the first bunch of flowers.
Any one of a dozen men could manage it.
I have my reputation to think of.
I can see I'm going to have to tell you everything.
- Of course you are. - Yes.
My aunt is not on her own just at the moment.
She has a young friend staying with her.
Madame de Tourvel.
You can't mean it.
To seduce a woman famous for strict morals...
...religious fervor and the happiness of her marriage...
What could possibly be more prestigious?
I think there's something degrading about having a husband for a rival.
It's humiliating if you fail, and commonplace if you succeed.
Where is Monsieur de Tourvel anyway?
VALMONT: Presiding over some endless case in Burgundy.
MERTEUIL: I don't think you can hope for any actual pleasure.
VALMONT: Oh, yes.
You see, I have no intention of breaking down her prejudices.
I want her to believe in God and virtue and the sanctity of marriage...
...and still not be able to stop herself.
I want the excitement of watching her...
...betray everything that's most important to her.
Surely you understand that.
I thought "betrayal" was your favorite word.
No, no...
I always think that has a nobler ring to it.
- How is Belleroche? - I'm very pleased with him.
And is he your only lover?
I think you should take another. I think it most unhealthy, this exclusivity.
- You're not jealous, are you? - Of course I am.
Belleroche is completely undeserving.
I thought he was one of your friends.
Exactly, so I know what I'm talking about.
No, I think you should organize an infidelity.
With me, for example.
You refuse me a simple favor...
...then you expect to be indulged?
It's only because it is so simple. It wouldn't feel like a conquest.
I have to follow my destiny.
I have to be true...
...to my profession.
All right, then.
Come back when you've succeeded with Madame de Tourvel.
- Yes. - And I will offer you...
...a reward.
My love.
But I shall require proof.
Written proof.
Not negotiable.
I don't suppose there's any possibility of an advance?
Goodnight, Vicomte.
BELLEROCHE: Oh, where have you been?
Time has no logic when I'm not with you.
An hour is like a century.
I've told you before, we shall get on a great deal better...
...if you make a concerted effort not to sound like the latest novel.
It's such a beautiful day, I believe we'll walk.
Yes, my lady.
You didn't take the sacrament today.
May I ask why?
I have this appalling reputation, as you may know.
Yes, I have been warned about you.
You have? By whom?
A friend.
The fact is I've spent my life surrounded by immoral people.
I've allowed myself to be influenced by them...
...and sometimes even taken pride in outshining them.
- And now? - Now...
...what I most often feel is unworthiness.
But it is precisely at such moments that you start to become worthy.
I certainly believe one should constantly strive to improve oneself.
...I don't believe you know my cousin, Madame de Volanges.
This is Chevalier Danceny.
And Madame's daughter, Cécile.
Tell us what we should think of the opera.
It's sublime, don't you find?
Monsieur Danceny is one of those rare eccentrics...
...who come here to listen to the music.
I do look forward to our next meeting.
Charming young man...
...penniless, regrettably.
He's one of the finest music teachers in the city.
Perhaps you should employ him.
VALMONT: How are you getting on with Madame de Tourvel's maid?
AZOLAN: To tell you the truth, it's been a bit boring.
If I wasn't so anxious to keep Your Lordship abreast, I'd have only bothered the once.
Still, what else is there to do in the country?
It wasn't so much the details of your intimacy I was after...
...it's whether or not she's agreed to bring me Madame de Tourvel's letters.
- She won't steal the letters, sir. - She won't?
You know better than me. It's easy making them do what they want.
It's getting them to do what you want that gives you a headache.
And them, as often as not.
I need to know who's writing to her about me.
I shouldn't worry if I was you, sir.
She told Julie she didn't believe you went hunting in the mornings.
She said she was gonna have you followed.
So I'd say it was only a matter of time.
That is a terrible noise he's making.
He should get the news back to her twice as quickly.
I don't think we should make it too easy for him.
What exactly do you think you're doing?
MAN: I am impounding these effects, sir.
Has it not been explained to you? Monsieur Armand is not well.
I don't make the laws, sir. I just do what I'm told.
Everybody has to pay his taxes.
How much does he owe?
- Well, uh... - How much?
Fifty-six livres.
- Pay him. - Yes, my lord.
Monsieur Armand...
Excuse me, you don't know me.
Of course I do, Monsieur le Vicomte.
Please, don't get up.
- I have to. They're taking the bed. - No, not at all.
No one's taking anything.
ALL: Please, please, please...
Me! Please. Please, sir. Please...
Just to tide you over. I insist.
GIRL: Me, sir...
Fifty-six livres to save an entire family from ruin.
That seems a genuine bargain.
These days, you can find half a dozen like that...
...any village in the country. - Really?
I must say the family was very well chosen.
Solidly respectable...
...gratifyingly tearful, no suspiciously pretty girls. Well done.
I do my best for you, sir.
That humble gratitude. It was most affecting.
Certainly brought a tear to my eye.
Dijon? That's from her husband.
This must be from that officious friend of hers.
Tell me, where do you and Julie meet?
Oh, in my room, sir.
- And is she coming tonight? - Afraid so.
I think I may be forced to burst in on you.
See if blackmail will succeed any better than bribery.
About 2:00 suit you?
I don't want to embarrass you. Will that give you enough time?
Ample, sir.
Is this true about Monsieur Armand?
I don't believe I know anyone of that name.
You may as well own up. My footman happened to be passing...
...when you were in the village this morning.
I don't think you should pay too much attention to servants' gossip.
ROSEMONDE: It is true, isn't it?
...yes. It is.
You dear boy, come and let me give you a hug.
I can't understand how someone whose instincts are so generous...
...could lead such a dissolute life.
I'm afraid you have an exaggerated idea...
...both of my generosity and of my depravity.
If I knew who'd given you such a dire account of me...
Since I don't...
...let me make a confession.
I'm afraid the key to the paradox lies in a certain weakness of character.
I can't see how so thoughtful an act of charity could be described as weak.
Because it was simply a response...
...to a strong new influence in my life.
You see how weak I am?
I promised myself I was never going to tell you.
It's just that looking at you...
You needn't worry. I have no illicit intentions.
I would not dream of insulting you.
But I do love you.
I adore you.
Please, help me.
- I rang a number of times. - Didn't hear, sir.
- I require some hot water. - Right away, sir.
Don't move.
- Azolan... - Sir?
Wait for me in my room.
You know I can't condone this sort of behavior.
I know, sir.
- But you may rely on my discretion. - Thank you, sir.
Providing, of course, that you agree to my price.
No, no. Nothing like that.
No, all I want is to get to see every letter...
...that Madame de Tourvel has received since her arrival here...
...and every letter she writes from now on.
- But sir, I can't... - Deliver them to Azolan by midnight.
For your trouble.
Would it be very wrong of me to answer Monsieur Danceny's letters?
- In the circumstances, yes. - In what circumstances?
It's not my place to tell you this, my dear...
...if I hadn't become so fond of you...
Go on, please.
Your marriage has been arranged.
- Who is it? - Oh, someone I know slightly.
Monsieur le Comte de Bastide.
- What's he like? - Well...
You don't like him?
Oh, it's not that. He's a man of somewhat erratic judgment.
- And rather serious. - How old is he?
- Thirty-six. - Thirty-six! He's an old man.
Do you know when?
In the new year, I believe.
Maybe there's a way to let you write to Monsieur Danceny.
Oh, madame.
If you were to let me see both sides of the correspondence...
...I could reassure myself.
But I can't show you the letters I've already sent him.
I trust you slept well, madame. I wish I could say that I had.
I thought the least I could hope for was that you would respect me.
But I do, of course!
You've offended me deeply. It's unforgivable.
This confirms everything I've been told about you.
I'm beginning to think you may have planned the whole exercise.
I had no idea you were staying here.
Not that it would have disturbed me in the slightest if I had known.
You see, until I met you, I had only ever experienced desire.
Love, never.
- That's enough. - No, no. You've made an accusation.
You must allow me the opportunity to defend myself.
I'm not going to deny that I was aware of your beauty...
...but the point is, this has nothing to do with your beauty.
As I got to know you, I began to realize...
...that beauty was the least of your qualities.
I became fascinated by your goodness.
I was drawn in by it.
I didn't understand what was happening to me.
It was only when I began to feel actual physical pain...
...every time you left the room...
...that it finally dawned on me. I was in love.
For the first time in my life I knew it was hopeless...
...but that didn't matter to me.
It's not that I want to have you, all I want is to deserve you.
Tell me what to do.
Show me how to behave. I'll do anything you say.
Very well, then. I would like you to leave this house.
I don't see why that should be necessary.
Let's just say you've spent your whole life making it necessary.
And if you refuse, I shall be forced to leave myself.
Well then, of course, whatever you say.
Thank you.
Perhaps I might be so bold as to ask a favor in return?
I think it would only be just to let me know...
...which of your friends has blackened my name.
If friends of mine have warned me against you...
...I could hardly reward them with betrayal.
I must say, you devalue your generous offer...
...if you use it as a bargaining point. - Very well, I withdraw the request.
I hope you won't think I'm bargaining if I ask you to let me write to you.
And pray that you will do me the kindness of answering my letters.
A correspondence with you is not something a woman of honor could permit herself.
You're determined to refuse my suggestions.
- I didn't say that. - And you'd rather be unjust...
...than risk showing me a touch of kindness?
I would welcome the chance to prove to you...
...that what lies behind this is not hatred or resentment but...
But what?
Listen to this:
"He knows exactly how far he may venture without risk...
...and guarantees his own security...
...by tormenting only the safest kind of victim: Women."
Madame de Volanges.
- Goodbye, Aunt. - Goodbye, dear boy.
- Monsieur, please... - I'll write soon.
My dear Madame de Tourvel...
...I have just come...
Don't move, I said.
- To my desk...
...in the middle of a stormy night...
...during which...
...I have been...
...from exultation...
...to exhaustion...
...and back again.
Yet, despite these torments...
...I guarantee that at this moment...
...I am far happier than you.
We'll finish it later, shall we?
VALMONT: Your damned cousin, the Volanges bitch...
...wanted me away from Madame de Tourvel.
Well, now I am, and I intend to make her suffer for it.
Your plan, to ruin her daughter, are you making any progress?
Is there anything I can do to help?
I'm entirely at your disposal.
Well, yes.
I told Danceny you would act as his confidant and adviser.
I need you to stiffen his resolve, if that's the phrase.
I thought if anyone could help him...
Help? He doesn't need help, he needs hindrances.
If he has to climb over enough of them, he might inadvertently fall on top of her.
I take it he hasn't been a great success.
He's been disastrous.
Like most intellectuals, he's intensely stupid.
I often wonder how you managed to invent yourself.
I had no choice, did I? I'm a woman.
Women are obliged to be far more skillful than men.
You can ruin our reputation and our life with a few well-chosen words.
So, of course, I had to invent not only myself...
...but ways of escape no one has ever thought of before.
And I've succeeded because...
...I've always known I was born to dominate your sex and avenge my own.
Yes, but what I ask was, how?
When I came out into society I was 15.
I already knew that the role I was condemned to...
...namely, to keep quiet and do what I was told...
...gave me the perfect opportunity to listen and observe.
Not to what people told me, which naturally was of no interest...
...but to whatever it was they were trying to hide.
I practiced detachment.
I learned how to look cheerful while under the table...
...I stuck a fork into the back of my hand.
I became...
...a virtuoso of deceit.
It wasn't pleasure I was after, it was knowledge.
I consulted the strictest moralist to learn how to appear.
Philosophers, to find out what to think.
And novelists, to see what I could get away with.
And in the end I distilled everything to one wonderfully simple principle...
...win or die.
So you're infallible, are you?
If I want a man, I have him.
If he wants to tell, he finds that he can't.
That's the whole story.
And was that our story?
I wanted you before we'd ever met.
My self-esteem demanded it.
Then when you began to pursue me...
...I wanted you so badly.
It's the only time I have ever been controlled by my desire.
Single combat.
Madame de Volanges.
Your note said it was urgent.
It's days now. I haven't been able to think of anything else.
Please, sit down. I have reason to believe...
...that a... Oh, how should I describe it?
That a dangerous liaison has sprung up between your daughter...
...and the Chevalier Danceny.
Oh, no, that's completely absurd.
Cécile is still a child. She understands nothing of these things.
And Danceny is an entirely respectable young man.
Tell me...
...does Cécile have a great many correspondents?
Why do you ask?
I went to her room at the beginning of this week.
I simply knocked on the door and entered.
She was stuffing an envelope...
...into the top right-hand drawer of her bureau...
...in which I couldn't help noticing...
...there seemed to be a large number of similar letters.
I am most grateful to you.
Would you think it impertinent if I were to make another suggestion?
No, no.
If my recollection is correct...
...I overheard you saying to the Vicomte de Valmont...
...that his aunt invited you and Cécile to stay at her château.
She has, yes, repeatedly.
A spell in the country might be the very thing.
Thank you.
You asked for hindrances.
You are a genuinely wicked woman.
And you wanted a chance to make my cousin suffer.
- I can't resist you. - I made it easy for you.
But all this is most inconvenient.
The Comtesse de Beaulieu has invited me to stay.
Well, you will just have to put her off.
Well, the Comtesse has promised me extensive use of her gardens.
It seems her husband's fingers are not as green as they once were.
Maybe not.
But from what I hear, all his friends are gardeners.
Is that so?
You want your revenge, I want my revenge.
I'm afraid there's only one place you can go.
- Back to Auntie, eh? - Back to Auntie.
Where you can also pursue that other matter.
You have some evidence to procure, have you not?
Don't you think it would be a generous gesture...
...to show the proper confidence in my abilities...
...if we were to take that evidence for granted?
I need it in writing, Vicomte.
- Now you must leave me. - Must I? Why?
- Because I'm hungry. - Yes?
I have quite an appetite myself.
Then go home and eat.
In writing.
You'll be pleased to hear, my dear, that Armand is on his feet again...
...and back at work.
Monsieur Armand!
Whose family you helped so generously.
Oh, yes!
When my nephew was last here we discovered, quite by chance...
...that he had gone into the village... VALMONT: Are you all right, madame?
I'm sorry to interrupt, Aunt. It seemed to me, all of a sudden...
...that Madame de Tourvel didn't look at all well.
- I'm quite all right. - Perhaps some fresh air.
Do you feel constricted?
I feel sure Madame de Volanges is right, as usual.
A turn around the grounds.
ROSEMONDE: Yes, a little walk in the garden. It's not too cool, I think.
Fresh air will do you the world of good.
That meal was somewhat heavy, perhaps.
I can't believe that was the cause.
Come back for it.
I've no wish to arouse suspicion, so I'll be brief.
The letter is from the Chevalier Danceny.
- Yes, I thought... - Now, the handing over of such letters...
...is a far-from-easy matter to accomplish.
I cannot be expected to create a diversion every day.
This key resembles your bedroom key, which is kept in your mother's room...
...on the mantelpiece, tied with a blue ribbon.
Take it, go attach the blue ribbon...
...and put it in the place of your bedroom key.
Bring it to me and I will get a copy cut within two hours.
I can collect your letters and deliver Danceny's...
...without any complications.
Now, in the cupboard by your bed...
...you'll find a feather and a small bottle of oil...
...so that you may oil the lock and hinges on the ante-room door.
- Are you sure, monsieur? - Trust me.
Believe me, mademoiselle...
...if there's one thing I can't abide, it's deceitfulness.
I trust you are feeling a little better, madame.
If I were ill, monsieur, it would not be difficult to guess who was responsible.
You can't mean me, do you?
- You promised to leave here. - And I did.
Would you excuse me, madame?
Quick, your mother.
What are you doing?
I just came up to fetch your shawl.
Why are you so angry with me?
All I can offer you is my friendship. Can't you accept it?
I could pretend to, but that would be dishonest.
The man I used to be would have been content with friendship...
...and then set about trying to turn it to his advantage.
But I have changed now.
I can't conceal from you that I love you tenderly, passionately...
...and above all, respectfully.
So how am I to demote myself to the tepid position of friend?
Not that you're even pretending to show friendship.
- What do you mean? - Well, is this friendly?
Why must you deliberately destroy my peace of mind?
You were wrong to feel threatened by me, madame.
Your happiness is far more important to me than my own.
That is what I mean when I say that I love you.
I think we should end this conversation.
I shall leave you in possession of the field.
But look...
We are to be living under the same roof, at least for a few days.
Surely we don't have to try to avoid each other?
Of course not.
Provided you adhere to my few simple rules.
I shall obey you in this as in everything.
Shh. Nothing to worry about.
- Have you brought a letter? - No.
Then what?
Shh. Shh.
What are you going to tell your mother?
How will you explain the fact that I have your key?
If I tell her I'm here at your invitation...
...I have a feeling she'll believe me.
What do you want?
Well, I don't know.
- What do you think? - No!
All right. All right.
I just want you to give me a kiss.
- A kiss? - That's all.
- Then will you go? - Then I'll go.
- Promise? - Whatever you say.
All right.
All right?
Very nice.
No, I mean, will you go now?
Oh, I don't think so.
- But you promised. - I promised to go when you gave me a kiss.
You didn't give me a kiss. I gave you a kiss.
Not the same thing at all.
And if I give you a kiss?
Let's just get ourselves more comfortable, shall we?
I better see what's wrong, if you will excuse me.
Of course, my dear.
I shouldn't worry, madame.
The young have such miraculous powers of recuperation.
I'm sure she'll soon be back in the saddle.
CÉCILE: Who else can I turn to in my desperation, madame?
And how can I write the necessary words?
There's something going on, and Cécile will not tell me.
You must speak to her at once.
Tell me...
...you resisted him, did you?
Of course I did...
...as much as I could.
- But he forced you? - No...
...not exactly.
But I found it almost impossible to defend myself.
Why was that? Did he tie you up?
No. No, he just has a way of putting things.
- You can't think of an answer. - Not even "no"?
I kept on saying no all the time.
But somehow, that wasn't what I was doing.
I am so ashamed.
You'll find the shame is like the pain.
You only feel it once.
You really want my advice?
Allow Monsieur de Valmont...
...to continue your instruction.
Convince your mother you've forgotten Danceny.
- And raise no objection to the marriage. - With Monsieur de Bastide?
When it comes to marriage, one man is as good as the next.
And even the least accommodating is less trouble than a mother.
Are you saying, I'm going to have to do that, with three different men?
I'm saying, you stupid little girl...
...that provided you take a few elementary precautions...
...you can do it, or not...
...with as many men as you like, as often as you like...
...in as many different ways as you like.
Our sex has few enough advantages, so make the best of those you have.
Now, here comes your maman...
...so remember what I've said, and above all, no sniveling.
How are you feeling now, my dear?
Oh, much better, thank you, maman.
I think you look tired. I think you should go to bed.
- No, I... - You should do as your mother suggests.
We can arrange to have something brought to your room.
I'm sure it will do you good.
Well, perhaps you are right, madame.
You have such a very good influence on her.
I don't think I've congratulated you on your revenge.
- So you know. - Oh, yes.
And I believe from now on, you'll find her door unbolted.
Where is she?
I can't see her at the moment.
Surely I have explained to you before how much I enjoy watching the battle...
...between love and virtue.
What concerns me is that you seem to enjoy watching it...
...much more than you used to enjoy winning it.
All in good time.
The century is drawing to its close.
Isn't it a pity that our agreement...
...does not relate to the task you set me...
...rather than the task I set myself?
I am grateful, of course.
But that would have been almost insultingly simple.
One does not applaud the tenor for clearing his throat.
As with every other science, the first thing you must learn...
...is to call everything by its proper name.
I don't see why we have to talk at all.
Without the correct polite vocabulary...
...how can you indicate what you would like me to do...
...or make an offer of something I might find agreeable?
- Surely you just... - You see, if I do my work adequately...
...I would like to think you'll be able to...
...surprise Monsieur de Bastide on his wedding night.
- Would he be pleased? - Of course.
He'll merely assume your maman has done her duty and fully briefed you.
Maman couldn't possibly talk of anything of that sort.
I can't think why.
She was, after all, one of the most notorious young women in Paris.
- Maman? - Certainly.
More noted for her enthusiasm than her ability...
...if I remember rightly.
There was a famous occasion before you were born...
This would have been...
...when your mother went to stay with the Comtesse de Beaulieu...
...who tactfully gave her a room between your father's...
...and that of a Monsieur de Vressac...
...who was her acknowledged lover at the time.
Yet, in spite of these careful arrangements...
...she contrived to spend the night with a third party.
- Heh, I can't believe that. - No, no, I assure you, it's true.
How do you know?
The third party was myself.
You asked me if Monsieur de Bastide would be pleased with your abilities.
And the answer is...
...education is never a waste.
...I think we might begin...
...with one or two Latin terms.
VALMONT: We go for a walk together almost every day.
A little further every time down the path...
...that has no turning.
She has accepted my love...
...I have accepted her friendship.
We are both aware of how little there is to choose between them.
I wish you knew me well enough to recognize...
...how much you have changed me.
My friends in Paris remarked on it at once.
I have become the soul of consideration...
...conscientious, charitable...
...more celibate than a monk. - Ha-ha-ha.
More celibate?
Well, you know the stories one hears in Paris.
VALMONT: I feel she is inches from surrender.
Her eyes are closing.
Where are you going, monsieur?
- To the salon. - There is no one there.
The others have all decided on an early night.
- I very much missed our walk today. - Yes.
I fear with the weather as it is, we can look forward to very few more of them.
- This heavy rain is surely exceptional. - Yes. May I?
Of course.
But, you see, within a week I shall have concluded my business.
- I see. - Even so, I am not sure...
...I'll be able to bring myself to leave.
Oh, please. You must.
- Are you still so anxious to be rid of me? - You know the answer to that.
I rely on your integrity and generosity.
I want to able to be grateful to you.
Forgive me if I say I don't want your gratitude.
What I want from you is something altogether deeper.
I know God is punishing me for my pride. I was so certain this could never happen.
- Nothing like what? Love? - I can't.
- Is love what you mean? - You promised not to.
Yes, of course, but I must know.
I can't, don't you understand? It's impossible.
You don't have to speak. Just look at me.
For God's sake, you must leave me if you don't want to kill me.
You must help.
Fetch Madame, Madame de Tourvel has been taken ill.
I heard something as I was passing.
She seemed to be having difficulty breathing.
- Oh, my dear, whatever is it? - I'm all right now.
I shall leave her in your capable hands, Aunt.
We must send for a doctor, my dear.
TOURVEL: No, no, please. I don't need a doctor. I just...
Sit with me for a moment.
I must leave this house.
I am most desperately in love.
To leave is the last thing in the world I want to do, but...
...I'd rather die than have to live with the guilt.
My dear girl, none of this is any surprise to me.
The only thing that might surprise one is how little the world changes.
What should I do? What's your advice?
If I remember rightly in such matters...
...all advice is useless.
I have never been so unhappy.
I'm sorry to say this but...
...those who are most worthy of love are never made happy by it.
But why? Why should that be?
Do you still think men love the way we do?
Men enjoy the happiness they feel.
We can only enjoy the happiness we give.
They are not capable...
...of devoting themselves exclusively to one person.
So to hope to be made happy by love...
...is a certain cause of grief.
I am devoted to my nephew.
But what is true of most men...
...is doubly so of him.
And yet...
...he could have, just now...
He took pity on me.
If he has released you...
...my dear child, you must go.
Get up, sir, quick.
What is it?
Over here.
- What is it? - Madame de Tourvel.
I want you to follow her, right now. Stay close to her.
I want to know everything.
Where she goes. Who she sees. What she eats. If she sleeps.
That's for bribes. Yours will come later.
- Yes, sir. - Now, go.
TOURVEL: Dear Father Anselme...
...try as I may, I cannot see...
...the necessity for the interview you suggest.
However, since you insist, I propose you bring him to see me...
...on Thursday, the 28th at 6:00 p.m.
This is excellent. Make sure Father Anselme receives it.
What news?
AZOLAN: No visitors.
There still hasn't been a single visitor since she got back.
A bit of soup last night, didn't touch the pheasant.
Afterwards, a cup of tea.
Nothing else to report.
Oh yes, sir, there is.
You wanted to know what she was reading.
The book by her bed is Christian Thoughts...
...Volume Two.
How is Julie?
She seems a bit keener than she was in the country.
And yourself?
Talk about devotion to duty.
Off you go.
Keep it up.
- Madame. - Vicomte.
...what a pleasant surprise.
Thank you, monsieur, for everything.
Well, I was afraid I'd been a sad disappointment to you.
On the contrary.
It's you I have to thank for keeping our love alive.
Well, as to love, Cécile thinks of little else.
She and her mother are coming back to Paris in two weeks...
...and she is longing to see you.
I have had the most wonderful letter from her.
Not like any of her other letters, somehow...
...quite a different tone of voice.
CÉCILE: My dearest...
...I swear to you...
VALMONT: "...on my chastity...
...that even if my mother forces me to go through with this marriage"...
...comma, "I shall be yours completely."
Your friend, the Vicomte de Valmont...
...has been very active on your behalf.
I doubt if you could do more yourself.
I don't know how I could bear to go another two weeks without seeing her.
We shall have to do our very best to provide some distraction for you.
If you would be so kind as to wait in the carriage.
There's a matter I must discuss with the Vicomte in private.
Of course.
I don't know how I can ever repay you.
Don't give it another thought.
It's been delightful.
Poor boy, he's quite harmless.
Sometimes, Vicomte, I can't help but adore you.
I have a piece of news I hope you might find entertaining.
I have reason to believe the next head of the house of Bastide...
...may be a Valmont.
What can you mean?
Cécile is two weeks late.
- Aren't you pleased? - I'm not sure.
Your aim was to revenge yourself on Bastide.
I have provided him with a wife trained by me to perform, quite naturally...
...services one would hesitate to request from a professional...
...and very likely pregnant as well.
What more do you want?
All right, Vicomte, I agree. You have more than done your duty.
Shame you let the other one slip through your fingers.
- I let her go. - But why?
I was moved.
Oh, well then, no wonder you bungled it.
I have an appointment to visit her on Thursday...
...and this time I shall be merciless.
I am pleased to hear it.
Why do you suppose we...
...only feel compelled to chase the ones who run away?
I shan't have a moment's peace until it's over.
I love her, I hate her...
...my life is misery.
Well, I think I may have kept our young friend waiting long enough.
I shall call on you sometime soon after Thursday.
Only if you succeed, Vicomte.
I can't face another catalogue of incompetence.
- I shall succeed. - I hope so.
Once upon a time you were a man to be reckoned with.
I understand Father Anselme...
...has explained to you the reason for my visit.
He said you wished to be reconciled with me...
...before beginning instruction with him.
That's correct.
But I see no need for formal reconciliation, monsieur.
No. When I have, as you said, insulted you...
...and when you have treated me with an unqualified contempt.
You run away from my aunt's house in the middle of the night.
You refuse to answer or even receive my letters.
And all this, after I have shown a restraint...
...of which I think we are both aware.
I would call that, at the very least, contempt.
You understand me better than you pretend to, monsieur.
It was me you ran away from, wasn't it?
- I had to leave. - And do you have to keep away from me?
I am as unhappy as you could have ever wanted me to be.
I've only ever wanted your happiness.
How can I be happy without you?
I must have you or die.
Death it is.
I'm sorry, madame.
All I wanted from this meeting was your forgiveness...
...for the wrongs that you think that I've done you.
So that I may end my days in some peace of mind.
I understood you approved of the choice my duty has compelled me to make.
Yes. And your choice has determined mine.
Which is what?
The only choice capable of putting an end to my suffering.
- What do you mean? - I love you.
You have no idea how much.
Just remember I have made far more difficult sacrifices...
...than the one I'm about to make. Now...
...goodbye. - No.
You must listen to me! No!
Why should you be so upset by the idea of making me happy?
You're right. I cannot live either unless I make you happy.
So I promise...
...no more refusals...
...and no more regrets.
...I arrived at about 6.
Yes, I think you may omit the details of the seduction.
They're never very enlivening.
Just describe the event itself.
- It was unprecedented. - Really?
It had a kind of charm that I don't think I have experienced before.
Once she'd surrendered, she behaved with perfect candor.
Total mutual delirium.
Which, for the first time ever with me, outlasted the pleasure itself.
She was astonishing.
So much so, that I ended by falling on my knees and pledging her eternal love.
And do you know that at that time...
...and for several hours afterwards, I actually meant it.
I see.
It's extraordinary, isn't it?
Is it?
- It sounds to me perfectly commonplace. - Oh, no...
...I assure you.
But, of course, the best thing about it is...
...I am now in a position to be able to claim my reward.
You mean to say you persuaded her to write a letter as well...
...in the course of this awesome encounter?
I didn't necessarily think you were going to be a stickler for formalities.
In any case, I may have to declare our arrangement null and void.
What do you mean?
I'm not accustomed to be taken for granted.
But there's no question of that.
You're misunderstanding me.
I have no wish to tear you away from the arms of someone so astonishing.
We've always been frank with one another.
As a matter of fact, I've taken a new lover...
...who is proving more than satisfactory.
- Who is that? - I'm not in the mood for confidences.
Don't let me keep you.
You can't seriously imagine I prefer her to you?
You may genuinely be unaware of this...
...but I can see quite plainly that you are in love with this woman.
Not at all.
Have you forgotten what it's like to make a woman happy?
- And to be made happy yourself? - I?
- Of course not. - We loved each other once, didn't we?
I think it was love.
And you made me very happy.
And we could again. We just untied the knot.
It was never broken.
Illusions, of course, are by their nature sweet.
I have no illusions. I lost them on my travels.
...I want to come home.
As for this present infatuation, it won't last...
...but for the moment, it is beyond my control.
MERTEUIL: My dear Vicomte, I'm obliged to go away for a couple of weeks...
...but I'm well aware of our arrangement.
On my return you and I will spend a single night together.
We shall enjoy it enough to regret it is to be our last.
But then we shall remember that regret is an essential component of happiness.
All this, of course...
...providing you are able to procure this famous letter.
VALMONT: It shall be done.
But Paris is so tedious without you.
And I am living like a medieval hermit.
All right, give me a moment.
Um, drink up.
What is it?
Someone who may well not appreciate your presence.
- Do you mean a woman? - A lady, we might even say.
Oh, it's not the one we wrote that letter to?
- The very one. - I enjoyed that.
You proved a most talented desk.
- I'd like to see what she looks like. - Well, you can't.
On second thought, I don't see why you shouldn't.
- Do you have plans for this evening? - A few friends round for dinner.
- And after dinner? - Nothing firm.
I'll be there.
This is an unexpected pleasure.
- I know that woman. - Are you sure? I'd be surprised.
She's been pointed out to me at the opera.
Yes, well, she's striking.
She's a courtesan, isn't she?
Yes, I suppose, in a manner of speaking.
Well, I'm sorry to have disturbed you.
You haven't disturbed me. I'm overjoyed to see you.
You'll never be received at my house again.
I don't want your lies and excuses.
Sit down. Just hear me out. That's all I ask.
Then you can judge.
Unfortunately, I cannot unlive the years I lived before I met you.
During those years I had a wide acquaintance...
...the majority of whom were no doubt undesirable in one respect or another.
Now, it may surprise you to know that Emilie...
...in common with many others of her character and profession...
...is kind-hearted enough to take an interest...
...in those less fortunate than herself.
In short...
...she has the time and the inclination to do a great deal of charity work.
Donations to hospitals, soup for the poor...
...protection for animals...
...anything which touches her sentimental heart.
From time to time, I make a small contribution to her purse. That's all.
Is that true?
My relations with Emilie...
...have been, for some years now, quite blameless.
I mean, she's even done a little secretarial work for me on occasion.
- Why did she laugh? - I have no idea.
Does she know about me?
No doubt she made what, in view of my past...
...must be regarded as a fair assumption.
I want to believe you.
I knew you were coming up.
You were announced.
I'm sorry.
But, no.
No, it's I who must apologize.
It was most insensitive of me.
I didn't think it was possible for me to love you more.
But your jealousy...
I love you so much.
When will you start writing to me again?
MERTEUIL: My dear Vicomte...
...I don't believe this self-denial can be good for you.
I hope it doesn't mean you're neglecting your little pupil.
But where can Danceny be?
I told you, I have all my people out looking for him.
There's no trace of him.
It is only the wind.
- Where are you? - Unh.
There's nothing to be frightened about.
Yes, there is.
I'm bleeding.
Your porter seems to be under the impression...
...that you're still out of town.
I have in fact only just returned.
Without attracting the attention of your porter?
It may be time to review your domestic arrangements.
I am exhausted. Naturally, I instructed the porter...
...to inform any casual callers that I was out.
And you here as well...
...my dear young friend.
The porter appears to be having a somewhat erratic evening.
Oh, well...
As a matter of fact, it's you that I'm looking for.
Mademoiselle Cécile returns to Paris after an absence of over two months.
Now, what do you suppose is uppermost in her mind?
Answer, of course: The longed-for reunion with her beloved Chevalier.
Vicomte, this is no time to make mischief.
Nothing could be further from my mind, madame.
Go on.
Imagine her distress and alarm when her loved one is nowhere to be found.
I've had to do more improvising than an Italian actor.
How is she? Is she all right?
Oh, yes. Well, no, to be quite frank.
I'm sorry to tell you she's been ill.
- Ill? - Calm yourself, my friend.
The surgeon has declared her well on the road to recovery.
But you can well imagine how desperate I've been to find you.
Of course, I...
My God, how could I have been away at such a time?
How can I ever forgive myself?
But look, all is well now with Cécile, I assure you.
And I shan't disturb you further.
It's only that I have a little something to show the marquise.
Wait in my dressing room.
- It's through there. - I know where it is.
I see she writes as badly as she dresses.
Is it really true the little one's been ill?
Not so much an illness, more a refurbishment.
- What do you mean? - Miscarriage.
Oh, Vicomte, I am so sorry.
Your son and Bastide's heir.
Isn't there something else that we should be discussing?
I do hope you're not gonna be difficult about Danceny.
I know Belleroche was pretty limp...
...but I think you could've found a livelier replacement...
...than that mawkish schoolboy. - Mawkish or not, he's completely devoted.
And, I suspect, better equipped to provide me with...
...happiness and pleasure than you are...
...in your present mood.
I see.
If I thought you would be your old charming self...
...I might invite you to visit me one evening next week.
I still love you, you see...
...in spite of all your faults and my complaints.
Are you sure you're not going to impose some new condition...
...before you agree to honor your obligation?
I have a friend who became involved with an entirely unsuitable woman.
Whenever any of us pointed this out to him...
...he invariably made the same feeble reply:
"It's beyond my control," he would say.
He was on the verge of becoming a laughing stock.
At which point, another friend of mine, a woman...
...decided to speak to him seriously.
She explained to him that his name was in danger...
...of being ludicrously associated with this phrase for the rest of his life.
So do you know what he did?
I feel sure you're about to tell me.
He went round to see his mistress and bluntly announced he was leaving her.
Well, as you can expect, she protested vociferously.
But to everything she said...
...to every objection she made...
...he simply replied:
"It's beyond my control."
Good night.
You're only five minutes late, but I get so frightened.
I become convinced I'm never going to see you again.
- My angel. - Is it like that for you too?
At this moment, for example, I'm quite convinced...
...I'm never going to see you again.
I'm so bored, you see.
It's beyond my control.
What do you mean?
Well, after all, it's been four months.
So, what I said:
It's beyond my control.
Do you mean you don't love me anymore?
My love had great difficulty outlasting your virtue.
It's beyond my control.
- It's that woman, isn't it? - You're quite right.
I have been deceiving you with Emilie, among others.
It's beyond my control.
Why are you doing this?
There's a woman. Not Emilie, another woman.
A woman I adore.
And I'm afraid she's insisting that I give you up.
It's beyond my control.
Liar! Liar!
You're quite right, I am a liar.
And it's like your fidelity, a fact of life. No more nor less irritating.
- Certainly beyond my control. - Stop it!
Don't keep saying that.
Sorry. Beyond my control.
Why don't you take another lover?
Whatever you like.
It's beyond my control.
Do you want to kill me?
Listen. Listen to me.
You have given me great pleasure.
But I simply cannot bring myself to regret leaving you.
It's the way of the world.
Quite beyond my control.
- Hyah! VALMONT: Tomorrow morning, early.
DRIVER: Yes, my lord. Hyah!
This is not your appointed night.
- That story you told me, how did it end? - I'm not sure I know what you mean.
Once this friend of yours had taken the advice of his lady-friend...
...did she take him back?
Am I to understand?
The day after our last meeting, I broke with Madame de Tourvel...
...on the grounds that it was beyond my control.
- You didn't. - I certainly did.
But how wonderful of you.
You kept telling me my reputation was in danger...
...but I think this may well turn out to be my most famous exploit.
I believe it sets a new standard.
Only one thing could possibly bring me greater glory.
What's that?
To win her back.
- You think you could? - I don't see why not.
I'll tell you why not.
Because when one woman strikes at the heart of another, she seldom misses...
...and the wound is invariably fatal.
- Is that so? - Oh, yes.
I'm also inclined to see this as one of my greatest triumphs.
There's nothing a woman enjoys so much as victory over another woman.
Except, you see, Vicomte, my victory wasn't over her.
- Of course it was, what do you mean? - It was over you.
You loved that woman, Vicomte.
What's more, you still do. Quite desperately.
If you hadn't been so ashamed of it...
...how could you have treated her so viciously?
You couldn't bear even the vague possibility of being laughed at.
And this has proved something I've always suspected.
That vanity and happiness...
...are incompatible.
Whatever may or may not be the truth of these philosophical speculations...
...the fact remains, it is now your turn to make a sacrifice.
Is that so?
- Danceny must go! - Where?
I have been more than patient with this little whim of yours. Enough is enough.
One reason I never remarried, despite a quite bewildering range of offers...
...was the determination never again to be ordered around!
I must therefore ask you to adopt a less marital tone of voice.
She is ill, you know. I have made her ill for your sake.
So the least you can do is get rid of that colorless youth.
Haven't you had enough of bullying women for the time being?
I see I shall have to make myself very plain.
I have come to spend the night.
I shall not take at all kindly to being turned away.
I am sorry. I've made other arrangements.
Yes, I knew there was something.
Danceny isn't coming. Not tonight.
What do you mean. How do you know?
I know, because I have arranged for him to spend the night with Cécile.
Come to think of it, he mentioned he was expected here.
But when I put it to him that he would really have to make a choice...
...I must say, he didn't hesitate.
He's coming to see you tomorrow to explain.
And to offer you...
Do I have this right? Yes, I think I do.
- His eternal friendship.
As you said, he is entirely devoted to you.
- That's enough, Vicomte. - You're absolutely right.
Shall we go up?
Shall we what?
Go up.
Unless you prefer this, if memory serves, rather purgatorial sofa.
- I think it's time you were leaving. - No, I don't think so.
We made an arrangement. I really don't think I can allow myself...
...to be taken advantage of for a moment longer.
Remember, I'm better at this than you are.
Perhaps. But it is always the best swimmers who drown.
Now, yes or no?
It's up to you, of course.
I will merely confine myself to remarking...
...that a no will be regarded as a declaration of war.
A single word is all that's required.
All right.
MERTEUIL: My dear Chevalier Danceny...
...I understand you spent last night with Cécile Volanges.
I learned this from her more regular lover...
...the Vicomte de Valmont.
I'm dying because I wouldn't believe you.
Unh... Agh.
DANCENY: Fetch the surgeon!
No, no.
DANCENY: Do as I say!
A moment of your time.
Two things: A word of advice, which of course you may ignore, but...
...it is honestly intended...
...and a request.
Go on.
The advice is: Be careful of the Marquise de Merteuil.
You must permit me to treat with skepticism...
...anything you have to say about her.
Nevertheless, I must tell you...
...in this affair, we are both her creatures...
...as I believe her letters to me will prove.
When you have read them, you may decide to circulate them.
And the request?
I want you somehow...
...to get to see Madame de Tourvel.
I understand she's very ill.
That is why this is most important to me.
I want you to tell her that I cannot explain...
...why I broke with her as I did.
But that since then, my life has been worth nothing.
I pushed the blade in deeper than you just have, my boy...
...and now I need you to help me withdraw it.
Tell her it is lucky for her that I have gone...
...and I'm glad not to have to live without her.
Tell her, her love was the only real happiness that I have ever known.
Will you do that for me?
I will.
It's all very well feeling sorry now.
Let him be.
He had good cause.
I don't believe that's something anyone has ever been able to say about me.
Draw the curtains.
Get out! Get out!
[English - US - SDH]