I watched Cruel Intentions last night on Netflix instant stream. The drama about a step-brother and sister who use sex as a way to degrade others and amuse themselves was first released in 1999. I was ten-years-old that year so seeing Ryan Phillipe squeeze Sarah Michelle Gellar’s boobies and boys kissing boys, and girls kissing girls and manipulating Reese Witherspoon into sharing her “flower” seemed shocking, exciting and generally dirty. Now that I am twenty-three the movie feels rather tame compared to anything you can see with internet access although the taboo of a step-brother and step-sister who want to get it on remains.
It is definitely an entertaining movie that I will re-watch until death but it is not the Oscar-worthy film I thought it was! The dialogue is not spectacular. It’s mostly puns and sexual innuendo that would make any teenager giggle but any adult . . . giggle ironically.
The entire movie is overacted especially Selma Blair’s character who is supposed to be naive to the point of stupidity but Selma (who is like the Kristen Stewart of the ’90s) can’t quite pull her off. Her entire character feels forced and Selma doesn’t look young enough to play someone who is presumably fourteen years old (a high school freshman). In fact all of them look way too old to be playing teens.
My biggest issue with the film is that we’re supposed to believe Ryan’s character really falls in live with Reese Witherspoon. His character is that of a philandering, manipulative, jerk who disposes of women like used tissues. After knowing Reese for such a short period of time, most of which he spent manipulating her we are supposed to believe that all of a sudden he is genuinely in love? There is literally one scene where his guard is let down, where they are in the car and she begins to make funny faces at him, the next scene he is in an unbreakable love and wants to completely change his behavior? I can believe that he infatuated with not being able to have her because that’s why he wants his step-sister but if that were the case he would have rejected Reese as soon as he got her.
Even his sister doesn’t buy it which does add some level-headedness to the movie but the problem is the viewer is supposed to be on his side just because he decided he might be sorry. Also, if Reese’s character was this easily manipulated she would have had sex “for love” a long time ago.
I really have no idea why aggressively berating someone’s friends into finding out where they are going and then following them to that destination is rewarded in romantic movies and not recognized as stalking and inappropriate. If Ryan were less “aesthetically pleasing to the eye” no one would think any of this shit was cute.
On the flip side, I do enjoy many of the sentiments of the film. Sarah Michelle Gellar’s speech on how it’s glorified when men sleep around but vilified when a woman does was great and how Selma Blair’s mom assumes her Black, music teacher was poor because of his race was a great bit of commentary.
The film, at the end of the day is a fantasy for any girl who wants a bad guy. It’s a fantasy for people who think they can “fix” someone who is misguided just by knowing them. Anyone who has lived a little knows that no one has the power to change anyone, that people change themselves (if they ever do) and they don’t do it over the course of a couple of weeks because they met a cute girl.
ALSO: DID THIS 16-YEAR-OLD BOY WRITE OUT HIS WILL JUST BEFORE HE DIED? Like, Reese just gets his car and his diary? That makes NO SENSE. I am sure his wealthy parents who bought him that car are the ones who would be sorting his assets and as far as the movie goes they had no idea Reese even existed and even if they did – give me a break!
At the end of the day: I LOVE THIS MOVIE.