Marquise de Merteuil (Glenn Close) seeks revenge on her ex-lover Gercourt. She enlists the help of another of her ex-lovers - Vicomte de Valmont (John Malkovich) to deflower Gercourt's betrothed, the innocent Cécile de Volanges (Uma Thurman). Valmont declines as he has his own conquest in mind, Madame de Tourvel (Michelle Pfeiffer).
Merteuil offers him a reward for his troubles with Trouvel, offering herself for a single night if he can get written proof of his encounter, but as he starts to fall in love with Trouvel he must use Cécile as a pawn in order to lever himself into Trouvel's life.
With so many characters it is easy to become mixed up between them - especially with the sheer number of female leads - but truly that is where the negatives about the film end.
The outstanding star is Malkovich as he beautifully, and darkly, portrays the vile Valmont with disturbing ease. He is remarkable and his efforts are aided wonderfully by some great panning and zooming of the camera.
Glenn Close is equally despicable as the Marquise de Merteuil, slipping in and out of seduction scenes with consummate ease. On the subject of Glenn Close's character, it is difficult to place Merteuil into either the hero or the villain role because she is clearly repressed by the men-led society she longs to rebel against. Close manages to capture both these sides with some impressive acting that earned her the Oscar nomination for that year.
Astonishing - and that's coming from someone who detests period drama.