YMMV / Cruel Intentions

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Did Sebastian ever truly redeem himself? Will Kathryn now that her reputation has crumbled? Has Annette gone the OTHER direction?
    • Cecile comes off as almost disturbingly childish in some scenes, acting more like a six year old than a teenager. Is she merely extremely smothered, repressed or has some kind of learning difficulty?
    • Mrs. Caldwell. Racist elitist snob or concerned mother who truly did want to protect her daughter and other young girls from being taken advantage of by cads like Sebastian and older men like Ronald? While not the most pleasant character in the film, she was actually the one who warned Annette about Sebastian's womanizing ways and regardless of race, just about ANY parent would be furious to see their teenage daughter being seduced by a music teacher. It didn't help Sebastian's case that until his Heel–Face Turn where he genuinely fell in love with Annette, he was every bit the manipulative bastard Mrs. Caldwell thought he was. It really didn't help Ronald's case that as Cecile's music teacher, he was very likely older than her, in addition to the fact that despite supposedly being in love with Cecile, Ronald really didn't seem to mind going bed-hopping with other girls like Kathryn.
  • Best Known for the Fanservice: There's a lesbian kiss in the first movie. That's what most people know about it.
    • There's a lesbian kiss in a shower (between twins, no less) in the prequel. That's all that anyone knows about it.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: Let's just say this: Had a film concept like this been pitched in the 1930s, '40s, or much of the '50s, the Hays Code would have rejected it out of hand. For it not only features all three varieties of the "impure love" referred to in that document - incest, homosexuality, and miscegenation - but portrays the latter (mostly) positively. And a bunch of kids engaging in all this! Yet the soap-opera tenor of the piece manages to make it all delightfully funny. Of course, then it crosses the line a third time, and things get ugly.
  • Crowning Music of Awesome: The soundtrack includes some of the best musicians of The '90s: Placebo, Aimee Mann, Skunk Anansie, blur, and The Verve
  • Cry for the Devil: Annette knows that Kathryn is ultimately responsible for Sebastian's death through what she read in Sebastian's journal. Many photocopies of it are then made and Anette gets Cecile to distribute it to the other students at school. Kathryn is delivering a eulogy for Sebastian in the chapel when someone enters the church and quietly lets the higher-ups know what is going on. Everyone begins to exit the chapel, prompting an outraged rant from the normally composed Kathryn. She storms out, demanding an explanation....and soon comes to realize that everyone now knows the whole truth about her. As she stands in shock, the school's headmaster comes up behind her and detaches the crucifix from her necklace....causing a trail of cocaine to spill out. This prompts tears of shame from Kathryn to end the movie on a sad note. Though granted, she had it coming.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: By the end of the film no one has really done anything heroic except for Sebastian, and he's dead. And nobody looks all that happy, either - not even the characters who "won."
  • Draco in Leather Pants:
    • Sebastian and Kathryn for quite a good number of viewers. Though some will cheer them on even knowing what evil bastards they are.
    • Cruel Intentions 2 actually treats Sebastian this way in-film, with Kathryn being blamed as the reason he became evil to begin with.
  • Evil Is Cool: Kathryn and Sebastian.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Fans of Buffy might be a bit disturbed at seeing the actress play a mega bitch, until we get to the final two seasons. Made better considering Sarah Michelle Gellar auditioned for the role of Cordelia initially, making this a window into what she could have done with that role instead.
    • Kathryn laments that she has to act like "Mary Sunshine" all the time. 3 years later, a supporting actress in this film, Christine Baranski, would play that part in Chicago.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Sebastian becomes this at about the 2/3 point in the movie when he realizes that he does love Annette, and Kathryn may also qualify at the very end of the film.
  • Les Yay: Kathryn and Cecile, in a creepy, manipulative way on Kathryn's part. There was also Kathryn and Annette in the original ending, in a creepy, manipulative way on Annette's part.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Sebastian and Kathryn try for this, but things fall apart for them both.
  • Narm: The characters all acting exactly like their situation is as important as in the original Dangerous Liasons, despite being mostly meaningless high school flings.
  • Never Live It Down: Ronald basically killed Sebastian, at least how fans see it. Though, given how the French novel that Cruel Intentions was based on went down, it really couldn't have ended any other way.
  • Sequelitis: Both sequels, with the third one being In-Name-Only sequel. Cruel Intentions 2 though has a dubious distinction of originally being a failed pilot (killed by religious groups, when they found out that the pilot, called "Manchester Prep", featured a scene where a Cecile expy learns about how to orgasm while riding a horse) / stealth reboot set shortly after Sebastian and Kathyrn's parents married and the two becoming allies and featured stand-in characters for Cecile and Annette. When the pilot was ultimately rejected, the film was given a new downer ending (the Annette stand-in turns out to be an evil bitch friend of Kathyrn, designed to break Sebastian and drive him to the dark side) and gratuitous nudity scenes inserted into the film as it was released direct to DVD.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: Kathryn's Freudian Excuse Motive Rant about society's double standards toward women in comparison to men in regards to sex.
  • Strawman Has a Point: While Cecile's mom may have been racist against Ronald, she still brought up a good point about how she helped him out by hiring him while he repays her by romancing her daughter. From her point of view, she genuinely saw it as a stab in the back that he would do something like that and she felt taken advantage of as a result. Plus, even if the race factor were removed, the fact remains that Cecile was a young teenage girl still in high school while Ronald, as her music teacher, appeared to be older than high school age, considering how he was qualified enough to be a music instructor. Plus it really didn't help Ronald's case that he was trying to have sex with Kathryn despite supposedly being in love with Cecile, making Cecil's mom look like she was right in retrospect to be wary of Ronald being around her daughter.
  • Tear Jerker: Sebastian's Redemption Equals Death, especially since he dies in Annette's arms.
    • Also, Kathryn's defeat, though deserved, is still sad due to her reaction. Even one of the people in the filmmakers' DVD commentary calls the scene "so heart-wrenching."
  • Values Dissonance: As pointed out by Needs More Gay, the film was released in that weird transitory period where it's very hard to tell if the homophobic lines from certain characters are supposed to make them look bad, or are just something considered more acceptable at the time. Though, considering how the issue of LGBT rights wouldn't completely gain more traction until the early to mid 2000s, it's more likely that Sebastian's gay slurs were simply a reflection of the 1990s, an era where homosexuality was much less acceptable than it is now.
    • Similarly, he points out that Sebastian is supposed to be more sympathetic and likable than his literary counterpart, but that his act of sex toward Cecile still qualifies as rape, and that society has become more of acknowledging of this in the past fifteen years.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/YMMV/CruelIntentions