Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Roger Kumble|
|Produced by||Neal H. Moritz|
|Screenplay by||Roger Kumble|
|Based on||Les Liaisons dangereuses
by Choderlos de Laclos
|Starring||Sarah Michelle Gellar
|Music by||Edward Shearmur|
|Cinematography||Theo van de Sande|
|Edited by||Ryan Mikel|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Box office||$75.9 million|
Cruel Intentions is a 1999 American teen drama film starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, Reese Witherspoon, and Selma Blair. The film is an adaptation of Les Liaisons dangereuses, written by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos in 1782, but set among wealthy teenagers attending high school in modern New York City instead of 18th century France.
The film started as an independent film with a small budget, and was later picked up by Columbia Pictures. It was released on March 5, 1999 to mixed critical reviews, but was a box office success, earning $75 million worldwide. It was followed by two direct-to-video films: a prequel, Cruel Intentions 2, and a sequel, Cruel Intentions 3. In early 2016, it was announced Cruel Intentions could receive a television series spin-off with Gellar set to reprise her role as Kathryn, as NBC ordered a pilot to a follow-up TV series.
In an upscale New York City mansion, wealthy and popular teenager Kathryn Merteuil (Gellar) is discussing her prep school with Mrs. Caldwell (Christine Baranski) and Mrs. Caldwell's daughter, Cecile (Selma Blair). Kathryn promises Mrs. Caldwell that she will look out for the sheltered and naïve Cecile. Kathryn's step-brother Sebastian (Phillippe) enters the room, whereupon Mrs. Caldwell reacts to him coldly and leaves with Cecile. Kathryn reveals to him that her real intention is to use Cecile to take revenge on her ex-lover Court Reynolds (Charlie O'Connell), who has dumped her for Cecile. Kathryn asks Sebastian to seduce Cecile; he refuses as he is planning to seduce Annette Hargrove (Witherspoon), the virgin daughter of their prep school's new headmaster. Annette is a 'paradigm of chastity and virtue' who recently wrote a published essay about saving herself for marriage and has been temporarily staying with Sebastian's aunt. The two make a wager: if Sebastian fails to bed Annette, Kathryn gets Sebastian's vintage Jaguar XK140; if he succeeds, Kathryn will have sex with him. It is mentioned that Sebastian keeps a journal detailing his conquests.
Sebastian's first attempt to seduce Annette fails, as she had already been told of his reputation as a womanizer. He vents to his friend, Blaine Tuttle (Joshua Jackson), who suggests that the informant might be Annette's ex-boyfriend and closeted jock, Greg McConnell (Eric Mabius), revealing to Sebastian that Greg tried to make a pass at him. He uses that to seduce Greg while being secretly filmed by Sebastian. Sebastian confronts Greg with the photographs, but he denies warning Annette. Greg is pressured into investigating who did, and Sebastian also orders him to present him in a good light to Annette. Later, while gushing about Sebastian to Annette, Greg discovers that the culprit is Cecile's mother, Mrs. Caldwell. Wanting revenge on the Caldwells, Sebastian agrees to seduce Cecile.
Meanwhile, Cecile's music teacher, Ronald Clifford (Sean Patrick Thomas), is in love with her. Cecile confesses this to Kathryn. Kathryn tells Mrs. Caldwell about Ronald and Cecile's romance and Mrs. Caldwell orders Cecile to end it. Sebastian, in turn, calls Cecile to his house, ostensibly to give her a letter from Ronald. There he blackmails Cecile in order to perform oral sex on her. The next day, Cecile confides in Kathryn, who advises her to learn from Sebastian so that she can make Ronald happy in bed.
Sebastian begins to fall in love with Annette, who returns his feelings but still resists him. Sebastian calls her a hypocrite because she claims to be waiting for her one true love, but when her one true love chooses to love her back, she resists. She relents, but Sebastian refuses her, confused about his feelings colliding with his stolid sexuality. Annette flees to the estate of her friend's parents. Sebastian tracks her down, professes his love, and makes love to her. As he has won the bet, Kathryn offers herself to Sebastian the next day, but he refuses; he now only wants Annette. Kathryn taunts him and threatens to ruin Annette's reputation, so Sebastian pretends indifference to Annette and coldly breaks up with her.
After Sebastian tells Kathryn that he has broken up with Annette and arranged for Cecile and Ronald to be together, Kathryn reveals that she has known all along that he was truly in love with Annette and manipulated him into giving her up. Sebastian angrily dismisses Kathryn, saying he no longer wants her, and she then rejects him. Sebastian leaves to confront Annette, and Kathryn calls Ronald, telling him that Sebastian slept with Cecile and lying to him that Sebastian hit her. Annette refuses Sebastian's apologies; he sends her his journal, in which he has detailed all of Kathryn's manipulative schemes as well as their bet, and written the true feelings he had for Annette all along. As he heads home, Ronald intercepts him on the street, starting a fight. Annette runs out and tries to stop it, but is accidentally thrown into the way of traffic. Sebastian pushes her to safety, and is hit by a cab. Before he dies, Sebastian and Annette profess their love for each other. Watching this, Ronald realizes that Kathryn lied to him and used him to kill Sebastian.
At Sebastian's funeral, Cecile distributes copies of his journal, made into a book by Annette, titled Cruel Intentions. Kathryn is humiliated and rejected by her former friends, and her reputation is ruined when cocaine is discovered in her rosary. In the final scene, Annette drives away in Sebastian's car with his journal at her side as she remembers the moments they shared.
- Sarah Michelle Gellar as Kathryn Merteuil
- Ryan Phillippe as Sebastian Valmont
- Reese Witherspoon as Annette Hargrove
- Selma Blair as Cecile Caldwell
- Louise Fletcher as Helen Rosemond
- Swoosie Kurtz as Dr. Regina Greenbaum
- Sean Patrick Thomas as Ronald Clifford
- Christine Baranski as Bunny Caldwell
- Joshua Jackson as Blaine Tuttle
- Eric Mabius as Greg McConnell
- Tara Reid as Marci Greenbaum
- Charlie O'Connell as Court Reynolds
- Herta Ware as Mrs. Sugarman
The film received mixed reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a score of 49%, based on reviews from 78 critics, with an average score of 5.3/10; the site's consensus stating: "Even in a slick package and an attractive cast, the movie succumbs to bad acting and a bad script." Metacritic gave the film an average score of 56% based on reviews from 24 critics. However, the film has gained somewhat of a cult following and is considered to be one of the first films to confront teenage sexuality and sexual manipulation. Charles Taylor of Salon.com described the film as "The dirtiest-minded American movie in recent memory - and an honestly corrupt entertaining picture is never anything to sneeze at." Stephen Holden The New York Times stated, "You have the queasy sense that the whole thing is just an elaborate stunt, and in this case an exploitative one." Despite this, Roger Ebert—a noted film critic for The Chicago Sun Times—praised Cruel Intentions and gave the film three out of four stars in his review. He stated that it was "smart and merciless in the tradition of the original story".
Cruel Intentions was a commercial success. The film grossed $13,020,565 in its opening weekend, ranking #2 behind Analyze This; released in 2,312 theaters, the movie raked in $75,902,208 worldwide.
The film received the following awards and nominations:
|2000||Blockbuster Entertainment Awards||Favorite Supporting Actress (Reese Witherspoon)||Won|
|Golden Slate Awards||Best Original Score||Won|
|Best Actress in a Leading Role (Sarah Michelle Gellar)||Nominated|
|Best Movie Soundtrack||Won|
|Best Teen Movie||Nominated|
|MTV Movie Awards||Best Female Performance (Sarah Michelle Gellar)||Won|
|Best Kiss (Sarah Michelle Gellar, Selma Blair)||Won|
|Best Male Performance (Ryan Phillippe)||Nominated|
|Best Villain (Sarah Michelle Gellar)||Nominated|
|Teen Choice Awards||Choice Movie: Drama||Won|
|Choice Movie Actor (Ryan Phillippe)||Nominated|
|Choice Movie Actress (Reese Witherspoon)||Nominated|
|Choice Movie: Love Scene (Reese Witherspoon, Ryan Phillippe)||Nominated|
|Choice Movie: Villain (Sarah Michelle Gellar)||Won|
|Choice Movie: Soundtrack||Nominated|
The film received two direct-to-video sequels, Cruel Intentions 2 in 2000 and Cruel Intentions 3 in 2004. Written and directed by Roger Kumble, the former was assembled from Manchester Prep, a scrapped prequel series by FOX, of which three episodes had been filmed. It features younger versions of the characters of Valmont and Merteuil, played by Robin Dunne and Amy Adams. The latter film was directed by Scott Ziehl and features a different cast of characters.
NBC announced in October 2015 that they had picked up a pilot for a continuation of the film's storyline. The pilot was to be written by Kumble and the creators of Cruel Intentions: The Musical, Jordan Ross and Lindsey Rosin, with Sebastian Valmont and Annette Hargrove's son being the main character.
In February 2016, Deadline.com reported that producers are in talks with Gellar to reprise the role as Kathryn Merteuil in the television sequel. On February 23, 2016, Taylor John Smith and Samantha Logan were both cast, with Smith playing the male lead role of Bash Casey, Sebastian Valmont and Annette Hargrove's son. On February 24, 2016, Gellar reached a deal with producers to be the female lead, reprising her role as Kathryn Merteuil. On March 1, 2016, the role of Annette Hargrove (the role portrayed by Reese Witherspoon in the movie) was recast with Kate Levering.
- "Cruel Intentions (1999)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2010-03-23.
- "Cruel Intentions TV series 'in the works' at NBC". News.com.au (Australia). October 22, 2015. Retrieved April 19, 2016.
- Andreeva, Nellie (October 21, 2015). "'Cruel Intentions' Follow-Up TV Series In Works At NBC With Film's Team & Musical Parody Duo". Deadline.com. Retrieved February 5, 2016.
- "Cruel Intentions". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2011-06-30.
- "Cruel Intentions Reviews, Ratings, Credits". Metacritic. Retrieved 2011-06-30.
- Taylor, Charles. (1999-03-05). "Cruel Intentions". Salon.com. Retrieved 2014-06-14.
- Holden, Stephen. (1999-03-05). "'Cruel Intentions': Back to Their Old Tricks, but a Whole Lot Younger". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-06-30.
- "Cruel Intentions Movie Review (1999)". RogerEbert.com. March 5, 1999. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
- Andreeva, Nellie (February 2, 2016). "'Cruel Intentions' Reboot Gets NBC Pilot Order". Deadline.com. Retrieved February 5, 2016.
- Andreeva, Nellie (February 23, 2016). "'Cruel Intentions': Taylor John Smith Set As the Male Lead, Samantha Logan Cast". Deadline.com. Retrieved February 23, 2016.
- Andreeva, Nellie (February 24, 2016). "Sarah Michelle Gellar To Reprise 'Cruel Intentions' Role In NBC Pilot". Deadline.com. Retrieved February 25, 2016.
- Andreeva, Nellie (March 1, 2016). "'Cruel Intentions': Kate Levering To Play Reese Witherspoon's Annette In NBC Pilot". Deadline.com. Retrieved April 4, 2016.
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