Can you make a sensual and seductive movie without any nudity? Cruel Intentions is proof that you can. This steamy little teen romance thriller is inspired by the 1782 novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses. Only instead of the French aristocracy, we’ll be following spoiled high-schoolers. If you asked me why this movie works so well, I couldn’t give you a straight answer. The characters are pretty unlikable, acting mediocre, and the story quite obnoxious. But somehow all this translates into a pretty engaging movie. The cast is young and hot, confidently led by seductive Gellar and fuckboi Phillippe.
Cruel Intentions is able to pull you into its own world, like some weird soap opera that you can’t stop watching. It’s nice to take a break from the real world and see how the rich are spending their days. I hate to mention the Mexican telenovela The Rich Also Cry, but this is pretty much it. All the character arcs are predictably unpredictable which makes them strangely intriguing. You keep thinking are they for real and apparently, it turns out they are. You also can use this movie to explore your own thoughts about sexuality, relationships, and everything else.
Sebastian and Kathryn are two wealthy teenagers obsessed with sex and popularity. It’s all they ever think about and there’s even some sexual tension between them despite being technically brother and sister. All this will culminate with a bet that Sebastian can’t get into the pants of the new girl in their school. She’s a devout Christian, saving herself for marriage so Sebastian will have his hands full here.
I feel like this is a movie for undamaged teenagers still figuring shit out. And somehow, I think that gay people also love this movie. Unfortunately, I watched it after I saw Rules of Attraction, so it didn’t really have an impact on me. The story and the character’s reactions sometimes feel really infantile. Although, I do remember, as probably most do, that kiss between Selma Blair and Sarah Michelle Gellar. A kiss that is still censored in some countries. Now if that doesn’t prove just how sexy this movie is, I don’t know what will. Also, you might wanna check out Not Another Teen Movie for a great parody of this scene.
On the other hand, they seem to be constantly trying to remain in the realm of mainstream, only teasing the audiences. It feels like you’re watching a softcore porn movie that really doesn’t want to shock you. I wonder what type of movie would it have been if they were willing to go the distance. I think that only Sleeping Beauty managed to find some middle albeit creepy ground. The same sensuality you can find in another arousing nineties thriller, Wild Things. Both of these movies serve as perfect escapism and are still refreshing after all these years.
Director: Roger Kumble
Writers: Choderlos de Laclos, Roger Kumble
Cast: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, Reese Witherspoon, Selma Blair, Joshua Jackson, Sean Patrick Thomas
Fun Facts: Ryan Phillippe recalled that after filming a fight scene with Reese Witherspoon where the two of them viciously insult each other, he felt so emotionally drained that he went outside and threw up.