"Valmont" is a 1989 film based on the novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Choderlos de Laclos, as well, of course, the better-known film Dangerous Liaisons starring Glenn Close and John Malkovich.
Here, Annette Benning is the Merteuil who is stunned to learn that her lover, Gercourt (Jeffrey Jones) is betrothed to the fifteen-year-old virginal Cecile (Fairuza Balk). She makes a bet with her Casanova-like friend Valmont (Colin Firth) that he can seduce Cecile so that on her wedding night, she is not a virgin, thus giving Merteuil revenge against Gercourt. Of course, the best-laid plans and all that - Cecile is in love with her music teacher (Henry Thomas), and Merteuil aids and abets the romance as much as possible. But things become more and more complicated, with Valmont, the eternal playboy, actually falling in love himself. And as the story says, once you fall in love, your power is gone.
This film is far superior to the more famous one. Forman is a fantastic director, and the cast warms up what is basically a cold, calculated story and really makes you care.
Annette Bening is more full-dimensional than Close's Martueil - she's beautiful, smart, and she's so sweet and lies so beautifully one has no idea what she's really like. Firth's Valmont is far more believable than Malkoitch's egomaniacal portrayal.
Henry Thomas is the desperately in love music teacher - it's good casting, but he comes off as too modern. It's a minor point because the entire cast is wonderful, including Fabia Drake as Madame de Rosemond, Sian Philips, Meg Tilly, and Fairuza Balik.
The film is beautiful to look at, sumptuously and carefully produced. It's a sad case of being the second film version out when the first was better marketed with a more American cast. Nevertheless, it's not too late to discover this gem.