Audiences who enjoy what they call ‘period dramas’ are having a party with Lionsgate Plus. In a break awaiting the second season of The Serpent Queen, we are with the first season of Liaisons Dangerous, the prequel that tells the youth of the Marquise de Merteiul and Viscount Valmont. With lots of surprises.
To a surprise, for those who know the book and the movie of the same name well, at the premiere we find a young Camile (Alice Englert) far from the nobility and prostituting herself. She and young Pascal (Valmont) are already passionate but poor lovers. In disappointment with him, Camille approaches one of the victims of Pascal’s seduction and blackmail, the Marquise de Merteiul (Leslie Manville). Well, there was another one before the one that became famous and if we don’t pay attention it seems that it has bold poetic liberties for the story. It gets tighter after the second episode.
We’ll talk about SPOILERS.
As for Camille, she turned to prostitution after a suicide attempt, but as she had warned in the pilot, she “knew life for the rich.” More than that, Camille has clearly been through sexual abuse that has caused her to want to take her life, but she is noble by birth. We are believing to be a servant, but no. And the revenge plotted is ultra personal. We’ll come back to that.
Camille is welcomed by Geneviève, the Marquise de Merteiul, who “adopts” her and is grateful to regain her reputation with the return of letters written to Valmont. She is an extremely unhappy and unbelieving woman, but she appears to have found a life purpose as a mentor to Camille. But it’s another inspiration. Geneviève waves Camille in which direction to go and… commits suicide. A scare that came as a total shock to characters like us. Like this? Well, goodbye Merteiul.
Camille must now impose herself on her own, a mission that we soon see is impossible. The return of the Marquis de Merteiul (Michael McElhatton) shows that there was a particular reason for Geneviève’s agony because he is cruel like few others. And yes, we are talking about Lord Bolton, Game of Thrones fans! Camille follows her mentor’s advice and in a veiled threat manages to maintain her presence in the Merteiuls’ house and – another surprise – finds the woman who throws her on the streets again. None other than Jacqueline de Montrachet (Carice van Houten) – yes, another actress from Game of Thrones – who under the pretense of religious seriousness hides an extremely cold woman. And Camille wants revenge!
In the meantime, without the letters and being exposed by Camille, Pascal de Valmont (Nicholas Denton) loses his job and his livelihood. He tries to explain himself to Camille, but now they’re estranged. Per hour. Camille will count on him for her revenge against Jacqueline.
What Camille doesn’t even suspect is that she has a stalker. Gabriel Carré (Hilton Pelser) feels he “owns” the woman who ran away from him. By threatening Valmont and bent on tracking her down, he can get in the way of the duo. But the story progresses very precisely.