Cruel Intentions – Film Review Essay
The film ‘cruel Intentions’, directed by John Hughes is a fast paced glimpse into the lives of the young new Yorkers whose entire existence revolves around power, sex and to some extent class A drugs. Hughes direction for the movie concentrates on those who prey on innocence and will stop at nothing to achieve their ambitions.
The story focuses on Sebastian whose main intention in life is to sleep with and ruin the reputations of girls whom he labels “Manhattans insipid debutants”. Using his charisma, charm and vast wealth he manipulates whichever woman he wants as easily as a 12 year old manipulates Tetris pieces on his game boy. Sebastian’s raw good looks and style captures every room he enters not to mention the fact that he has no problem whatsoever wearing the threads of high quality Armarini outfits with such class prince William could take notes. Also his car gives a very high-class impression of him, as it is not common for someone who is still in high school to have such a rare, collectable and expensive car. How ever Sebastian holds a burning flame for his cunning stepsister Katherine, played by Sarah Michelle Gellar. She is well aware of this lust that Sebastian has for her and uses it to bate him into doing what ever she wants him to do.
Gellar also plays her part to near perfection she plays a manipulative and seducing role, her performance totally make you forget that she is the nations favourite vampire slayer. She brings Katherine to life emphasizing her snobby accent and supposed kindness, when all the time she is secretly snorting Cocaine from her deceptive rosary that she wears around her neck. By being student body president and a school icon she gives potential students fake advice and deceivingly assure their mothers that they are in the best of hands at Manchester prep.
The main story really starts to kick in when Sebastian finds what he sees as a challenge, in Annette Hargrove (Reese Witherspoon) the sweet virgin who takes pride in her purity. Sebastian is not only interested because of this, she also happens to be the daughter of the new headmaster at Manchester prep. She has moved to New York from Kansas to continue high school. Sebastian longs to seduce her as it would be his ultimate achievement and until now he has never failed to achieve his goal. When he tells Kathryn about this she doesn’t think that even he can manage to sleep with her. Sebastian as confident as ever wants to prove her wrong and offers to place a bet on whether he can entice Annette in to bed, if Sebastian fails to do this he has to give his treasured 1956 Jaguar to Kathryn and if he successes he gets the one thing he could never have otherwise…. a chance to sleep with Kathryn. As Sebastian moves in on his “prey” he finds that, although his intentions to start with at first were deceitful, he is slowly falling in love with Annette. Little does he know it is this that will turn his life upside down and eventually prove fatal.
It is not all so simple for Sebastian though as Annette has an overpowering negative attitude towards Sebastian, one that is obviously seen through as a secret lust for him and the immortal life he leads. This chemistry between them is hesitant at 1st,but the more they are together the more apparent it becomes. This may be connected to the fact that the 2 (Witherspoon and Philippe) are married in real life making it the almost perfect pair the play the parts. Witherspoon does have a flaw to her though, due to the fact that Hughes lets her be won so easily by the “bad boy”. To be a woman who has followed a particular honour code her entire life, she falls into the hands of the promiscuous Sebastian without even so much as a glimpse back into her old ways and long time boy friend Trevor who has respected her decision to remain a virgin all the way through there relationship.
The movie has a very dramatic last 30 minutes. The drama starts when Sebastian inadvertently gets killed when he pushes Annette out the way of an oncoming car and gets hit by it himself. Sebastian’s death comes quite unexpectedly as he has been the main focus of the story all the way through and just as he has fallen in love and lost the invisibility he had earlier, he dies. The movie then finishes on a much happier note as every one finds out what Kathryn is really like at Sebastian’s funeral when his diary with all his plans, thoughts and schemes in is handed out just as Kathryn is making her speech. Which, yet again, is full of lies.
Aside from a slightly happified ending, Cruel Intentions is an impressive movie. Solid dialogue, luscious characters that play their roles to a tee (perhaps with the exception of Witherspooon), great comic relief. I would recommend this movie for all those who have strong hearts or like to see a complex love story as it has all of the plotting and manipulation you could ask for but also in the end it has what turns out to be a heartbreaking love line.