When two films based on the same story are released within a year of each other, moviegoers—and critics—are bound to make comparisons. The most talked-about will be between Malkovich and Forman’s surprising choice for Valmont, Colin Firth—a familiar face only in his native England, where the 29-year-old has acted in films, plays and a TV series.
Firth admits he didn’t see himself in the role of the lady-killer at first. It certainly doesn’t jibe with the callow types he played in Another Country, A Month in the Country and Apartment Zero. But Forman wanted to excite speculation as to Valmont’s motives, and Firth’s boyish innocence brings complexity to a character traditionally interpreted—most recently in Dangerous Liaisons—as a more worldly lover. In fact, aside from the inevitable surface similarities, Firth maintains the two films have little in common, citing Valmont’s “entirely different” plot direction, “more poignant” ending and “less moralistic” tone.
is as successful
as its most recent predecessor, Firth’s career could take off. He
aside such suggestions: “I don’t see this film changing things
for me.” But the last time Forman cast as unknown in a leading role,
gamble paid off. If F. Murray Abraham’s success with Amadeus is
any indication, those could be famous last words, indeed.
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