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‘Dangerous Liaisons’ assessment: A Starz sequence model ratchets up the sexual politics whereas dragging out the story


For an 18th-century French novel, “Les Liaisons Dangereuses” definitely bought round, inspiring a play, the films “Dangerous Liaisons” and “Valmont” in 1988 and ’89, respectively, and the twisted teen variant “Cruel Intentions.” Now comes a Starz sequence prequel, “Dangerous Liaisons,” which ratchets up the intercourse whereas dragging out (and out and out) the story.

Although the present options lesser-known Australian leads in Nicholas Denton as Valmont, the roguish seductor, and Alice Englert (the daughter of acclaimed director Jane Campion) as Camille, his preliminary love and eventual foe, they’re surrounded by higher-profile gamers in supporting and in some cases short-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 through the 1700s, the present once more lustily captures a time the place sexual adventures of all types have been widespread but in addition probably ruinous if uncovered, and within the case of Valmont, deftly wielded like weapons of warfare as instruments of blackmail.

Camille learns that the onerous method earlier than being taken below the wing of the rich Marquise de Merteuil (Manville), who counsels her to study from the older girl’s errors, urging her to “Avenge our sex,” and that on this iteration of the battle of the sexes, the stakes are “Conquer, or die.”

Adapted by author/producer Harriet Warner (“Call the Midwife”), for all its juicy bits the episodic format blunts the momentum of the story. Indeed, it’s not till the third episode that the plot actually begins to kick in, with Camille difficult Valmont to woo the seemingly chaste and unmovable Jacqueline de Montrachet (Van Houten) – calling her “The one woman in Paris you can’t seduce” – for motives that can come into sight later.

Period melodrama has develop into a fertile discipline, which seems to be a double-edged sword. Handsomely mounted, it’s nonetheless simple to dismiss “Dangerous Liaisons” (particularly for many who lack a previous funding within the property) as being a considerably edgier model of “Bridgerton” or less-comedic spin on “The Great,” each reveals that scratch comparable itches.

By distinction, anybody with a keenness for the films (each the Glenn Close/John Malkovich and Annette Bening/Colin Firth pairings are well worth the time), there’s a pallid high quality to this rendition, much less within the steaminess of the conditions than the extended method they’re structured, even with stunning twists alongside the way in which.

Starz has wrung a good quantity of mileage out of costume dramas, with “The Serpent Queen” as the newest instance. In a vote of confidence, the community has already renewed “Dangerous Liaisons” for a second season upfront of its premiere, so these hoping for the finality {that a} restricted sequence may need offered, be forewarned.

Given the identifiable title and worldwide attraction, there’s maybe a bit much less danger in playing upon this idea, with its premium-TV sexuality filtered via the prism of 18th-century decadence.

That stated, not every little thing is worthy of its personal cinematic universe. And whereas the principals’ said selections could be “conquer or die,” the sequence’ internet impact lands someplace within the less-than-wholly-satisfying realm in between.

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

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