Cruel Intentions (1999)

Rating: C+

Dir: Roger Kumble
Star: Sarah-Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillipe, Reese Witherspoon, Selma Blair

…in which Buffy the Vampire Slayer says, “I wanna fuck!”. While seeing Gellar play against type has undeniable appeal, this high-school version of Dangerous Liasons has other pleasures to offer, though it never quite reaches the heady heights of Close and Malkovich. Gellar is fine, it’s Phillipe who fumbles the ball, never convincingly evil enough – he comes across as a whiny brat rather than the embodiment of pure evil. The story remains the same – seduction, destruction and contrition – and the setting shift from pre-revolutionary France to the posh end of New York succeeds about 90% of the time; unfortunately, the crucial ending part is one of the sections that doesn’t quite work.

On the other hand, the incest slant is creepily solid, and, Sarah-Michelle, teaching her girlfriend how to French kiss will see much rewind action in adolescent bedrooms worldwide. At least this one realises that if you’re going to do remakes, bring something new to the party. Gus Van Sant, please take note.