Teenage idols Sarah Michelle Gellar ("Buffy: The Vampire Slayer," I Know What You Did Last Summer), Ryan Phillipe (I Know What You Did Last Summer), Selma Blair, and Reese Witherspoon (Pleasantville) join forces in the hip and sexy Cruel Intentions, a story of sexual competition and dominance.
Phillipe plays Sebastian, a player who finds joy through causing misery in others but has lately become bored with his life and Gellar is Katherine, Sebastian's step-sister who says she will have sex with him if he manages to have sex with virgin Witherspoon. Of course, their game quickly tumbles out of control as Phillipe begins to fall in love with Witherspoon and Katherine's revenge scheme skids out of control.
The acting in Cruel Intentions is shaky at best. The dialogue is somewhat dry, although it is supposed to be, and the movie is not helped (or is it?) by a strange script. By the end, however, all of it seems to have been done for a purpose, and the acting vastly improves in the last half hour.
Director Roger Kumble definitely worked hard on this film. Although Cruel Intentions seems like a "teenage sex movie," it is much more complicated and merely an adult movie with a young cast. Kumble furthermore adds a lot of interesting camera angles to make the movie flow, and most of the music interludes quite nicely.
As in all movies where the simple plan spirals out of control, the ending is pivotal. Things take for the worse in Cruel Intentions, which makes the ending quite worthy, and it is questionable up to the end who will have the last laugh. By the time the credits start playing, Cruel Intentions has the last laugh, because it beat the odds and provided a great semi-adult movie with a young cast.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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