I eventually got round to watching the second of the three Dangerous Liaisons adaptations, this one taking the title from the book and released in 1988. It had a surprisingly star-studded cast, with a young John Malkovich playing Valmont, opposite Glenn Close, Michelle Pfeiffer and Uma Thurman as his various love interests.
Although the peasant village that was shown briefly did have a very rough, clumsy feel and the peasants were suspiciously clean by modern, gritty standards, in general it felt as though a lot of effort was made with historical accuracy, with the style of dress, furnishings and hair. One thing that did jar with me was the American accents – I know that, with the original being in French and the novel set in France, even an RP English accent would have been 'wrong', but I guess I'm just so used to period dramas using English accents that it seemed odd. A younger Peter Capaldi with long hair and his strong Scottish accent as a servant was totally worth it though.
The quality of the acting was wonderful (except perhaps from Keanu Reeves, but I didn't expect him to be able to move his face much back then either), and the emotional intensity, particularly between Malkovich and Close, kept me glued to the screen. I particularly liked that this adaptation, while recognising that the Marquise de Merteuil is a very selfish and manipulative character, also gave us a chance to empathise with her rather than demonising her in the way that Cruel Intentions does.
Overall, a very enjoyable and pretty accurate period adaptation.