WIT IS THE ULTIMATE WEAPON.
In Dangerous Liaisons (1988) the aristocrats manipulated each other for sex, money and revenge. They generally keep their pants on in Patrice Leconte’s period piece, but the fancy 1780s surroundings seem to inspire foul play anyway. But it all serves a worthy cause, as the manipulation is performed by a young nobleman (Charles Berling) who is trying to obtain funds for an important swamp project. The screenplay portrays a monarchy depraved and wretched; the humor is dark in this uneven but interesting story of how anyone blessed with true wit can accomplish anything.
1996-France. 102 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Gilles Legrand, Frédérick Brillion, Philippe Carcassonne. Directed by Patrice Leconte. Screenplay: Remi Waterhouse, Michel Fessler, Eric Vicaut. Cinematography: Thierry Arbogast. Production Design: Ivan Maussion. Cast: Charles Berling (Grégoire Ponceludon de Malavoy), Jean Rochefort (Bellegarde), Fanny Ardant (Madame de Blayac), Judith Godreche, Bernard Giraudeau.
BAFTA: Best Foreign Language Film.
Last word: “I myself often go to see plays and I had seen [Berling] on stage and I found him really remarkable. And very quickly I thought of him for the role because I wanted an actor that was not too famous for that role, because my idea was that at Versailles there would be a court full of people that were relatively well known, and somebody unknown, who had come from the countryside, would step into the world of the nobility. So in a sense it was all these famous actors looking down upon this unknown actor, and that would work so much better with an actor that people have never seen in movie theaters.” (Leconte, Parallax View)