Cruel Intentions

Friday, March 3 - Saturday, March 4, 2023

“The question: Can producer Neal H. Moritz take a couple of his stars from his teen horror hit I Know What You Did Last Summer and successfully transport them to yet another screen version of Les Liaisons Dangereuses? The answer: an unequivocal ‘yes.’

No two young people could be more cynical than step-siblings Kathryn Merteuil (Sarah Michelle Gellar), whose mother has married the father of Sebastian Valmont (Ryan Phillippe). Rich, bored and clearly neglected by their parents–for whom they have nothing but contempt–Kathryn and Sebastian, who live alone in a vast Upper East Side apartment, have no real interests outside playing games with other people’s emotions. The unthinkable has happened to Kathryn: Her boyfriend has dumped her for the innocent, klutzy Cecile (Selma Blair). Sebastian, who already has a reputation as a lady-killer, readily agrees to deflower the virginal Cecile in revenge.

But higher stakes loom: Sebastian reads in Seventeen a column by Annette Hargrove (Reese Witherspoon), daughter of the new headmaster of the posh Manhattan prep school Kathryn and Sebastian attend; in it Annette asserts that she intends to save herself for marriage. That does it: If he succeeds in seducing her, Kathryn will give herself–‘the only woman you can’t have’–to him. If he fails, he has to give Kathryn his 1956 red Jaguar….

There are especially sharp portrayals from Christine Baranski as Cecile’s social-climbing, racist mother; Swoosie Kurtz as a slick, mercenary therapist; and Sean Patrick Thomas as Cecile’s amorous music teacher. Jon Gary Steele’s production design is knowing, detailed and crucial to this handsome film set entirely in the world of the privileged, and Edward Shearmur’s score echoes the film’s shifting moods elegantly but with a jaunty driving insistence that underlines the film’s witty, satirical tone and relentless sense of inevitability.”

– Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times

Please note: the March 3 & 4 screenings were presented on 35mm, but the March 10 & screenings are on DCP.

  • Year 1999
  • Running Time 97 minutes
  • Distributor Park Circus
  • Director Roger Kumble
  • Cast Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, Reese Witherspoon, Selma Blair

IFC Center does not generally provide advisories about subject matter or potentially triggering content in films, as sensitivities vary from person to person. In addition to the synopses, trailers and other links on our website, further information about content and age-appropriateness for specific films can be found on Common Sense Media, IMDb and as well as through general internet searches.