‘Dangerous Liaisons’ review: A Starz series version ratchets up the sexual politics while dragging out the story


For an 18th-century French novel, “Les Liaisons Dangereuses” definitely got all over, inspiring a participate in, the films “Dangerous Liaisons” and “Valmont” in 1988 and ’89, respectively, and the twisted teen variant “Cruel Intentions.” Now comes a Starz collection prequel, “Dangerous Liaisons,” which ratchets up the sex even though dragging out (and out and out) the story.

Whilst the demonstrate features lesser-regarded Australian leads in Nicholas Denton as Valmont, the roguish seductor, and Alice Englert (the daughter of acclaimed director Jane Campion) as Camille, his first like and eventual foe, they’re surrounded by bigger-profile gamers in supporting and in some scenarios limited-lived roles. That forged consists of “Phantom Thread’s” Lesley Manville and “Game of Thrones” alumni Carice Van Houten, Michael McElhatton and Tom Wlaschiha.

Set in Paris in the course of the 1700s, the demonstrate again lustily captures a time in which sexual adventures of all sorts had been prevalent but also probably ruinous if exposed, and in the situation of Valmont, deftly wielded like weapons of war as applications of blackmail.

Camille learns that the tricky way right before getting taken underneath the wing of the rich Marquise de Merteuil (Manville), who counsels her to master from the more mature woman’s blunders, urging her to “Avenge our sexual intercourse,” and that in this iteration of the fight of the sexes, the stakes are “Conquer, or die.”

Adapted by writer/producer Harriet Warner (“Call the Midwife”), for all its juicy bits the episodic format blunts the momentum of the tale. Indeed, it is not right until the 3rd episode that the plot certainly commences to kick in, with Camille hard Valmont to woo the seemingly chaste and unmovable Jacqueline de Montrachet (Van Houten) – calling her “The just one lady in Paris you cannot seduce” – for motives that will come into view later on.

Period melodrama has grow to be a fertile area, which turns out to be a double-edged sword. Handsomely mounted, it’s yet easy to dismiss “Dangerous Liaisons” (specially for those who absence a prior expense in the home) as becoming a fairly edgier version of “Bridgerton” or much less-comedic spin on “The Terrific,” the two reveals that scratch very similar itches.

By contrast, everyone with a fondness for the films (the two the Glenn Close/John Malkovich and Annette Bening/Colin Firth pairings are well worth the time), there is a pallid good quality to this rendition, less in the steaminess of the scenarios than the prolonged way they are structured, even with shocking twists alongside the way.

Starz has wrung a reasonable amount of mileage out of costume dramas, with “The Serpent Queen” as the most modern illustration. In a vote of confidence, the network has now renewed “Dangerous Liaisons” for a second year in advance of its premiere, so people hoping for the finality that a confined sequence may well have supplied, be forewarned.

Provided the identifiable title and worldwide enchantment, there is most likely a bit a lot less hazard in gambling upon this strategy, with its quality-Television set sexuality filtered by way of the prism of 18th-century decadence.

That said, not everything is worthy of its own cinematic universe. And while the principals’ mentioned decisions may possibly be “conquer or die,” the series’ net outcome lands somewhere in the considerably less-than-wholly-enjoyable realm in involving.

“Dangerous Liaisons” premieres November 6 at 8 p.m. ET on Starz.

Bessie Venters

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