American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
"Dangerous Liaisons" is a story of two people who lack the courage to admit they love each other, and so they spend their energies destroying the loves of others. They describe as cynicism what is really depravity and are so hardened to the ordinary feelings of life that only one emotion can destroy them. That emotion is love, of course.
The two people live in 18th century France, at a time just before the revolution, when the decadence of the aristocracy has become an end in itself. The Marquise de Merteuil lives in a world of drawing rooms and boudoirs, where she swoops down like a hawk upon the innocent and the naive, wrecking their idealism with a triumphant laugh to herself.
Her partner and confidant is the Vicomte de Valmont, who was once her lover and is now her weapon against young women presumptuous enough to love. In their private score-keeping, nothing counts more than a heart destroyed and hopes laid to waste.
One day the Marquise (Glenn Close) comes to the Vicomte (John Malkovich) with an assignment. She has lost a lover who left her to marry an innocent young woman named Cecile (Uma Thurman). She wishes the Vicomte to seduce the young woman before she can bear her virginity to the marital bed. The Vicomte accepts the dare and dispatches himself to the country, where, however, he eventually sets his sights on another young woman instead.