Prologue. The Marquise de Merteuil and the Vicomte de Valmont, each with the assistance of a servant are getting ready for the ball. Both belong to the upper echelons of society and are welcome guests at every important function. Former lovers, the Marquise and the Vicomte are friends and allies, however, the enduring spark of tension and rivalry attests that they are not indifferent to each other. Merteuil and Valmont turn their attention to Cecile de Volanges, a young unspoilt girl from an aristocratic family. She, with the assistance of her mother, is getting ready for her first, her coming out ball.
High society, among them Merteuil and Valmont, meets at the ball. Cecile arrives with her mother who introduces her to the man she has chosen for her to marry. When Merteuil realises that Cecile's intended is her former lover who rejected her, she decides to take her revenge, with the help of Valmont. The Vicomte, renown for his romantic escapades will have to seduce the virginal Cecile. Merteuil contrives events so that Valmont is alone with the young girl. Valmont behaves surely and seductively but although Cecile is afraid, he succeeds in arousing her curiosity.
Merteuil is alone. In the midst of a religious procession she spies Mme de Tourvel.
As opposed to the gregarious and exuberant Merteuil, Tourvel is demure, pious and humble. Valmont joins the procession and together with Merteuil they decide that Tourvel will be their next victim and lay plans to compromise her much lauded virtue.
There is a holy feast day in the rural village. Tourvel takes part in the ceremony. Valmont also acts piously and joins her, hoping to attract her attention. After the ceremony, everyone, including Valmont joins in the festivities. Valmont turns his attentions to many women concurrently. At some point Valmont tries to include Tourvel in the festivities and captivate her. Afraid of tarnishing her reputation as a virtuous wife, Tourvel avoids all of his advances and flirtations. At the end of the celebration Merteuil appears to observe and asses events.
Chevalier Danceny, Merteuil and Valmont's latest victim, just as Cecile before him, is getting ready for his first ball. Working together, Merteuil and Valmont contrive to lure Danceny into their web of intrigue.
At the ball Danceny meets and falls in love with Cecile. Their joy is interrupted by the arrival of Merteuil and Valmont who have other plans for the young lovers. The ball continues with a lascivious women's dance. Valmont is enraptured by these women and flirts with each one in turn. The last is Cecile who is thrust into his hands by Merteuil. At first she resists Valmont's temptations but eventually succumbs. During this time Merteuil seduces Danceny. When the women return, Valmont again is in their midst. Only at the appearance of Tourvel do they depart.
Tourvel meets with Valmont. Their original cool and aloof relationship is gradually replaced by ever increasing warmth and passion. Tourvel loses her resolve and is ready to submit to Valmont. She gives Valmont her most precious possession - the rosary with which she had intended to convert him into an honourable person. Merteuil arrives, and displeased with this closeness, she disrupts this intimacy. Valmont has to choose between both women, between virtue and depravity. To make Valmont jealous, Merteuil flirts with Danceny. The provocation succeeds; Valmont abandons Tourvel and leaves with Mertuil.
Prologue. Merteuil and Valmont are getting ready for their usual ball, which will turn out to be their last, and most significant confrontation.
Everyone listens to the singer at the ball. Merteuil, Tourvel, Cecile, Danceny and Valmont perform their dangerous liaisons in the foreground. When the guests depart, Valmont remains alone with Tourvel and their love is rekindled. Again it is disrupted by the arrival of Merteuil and the women. Valmont again succumbs to revelry with the women. When Tourvel appears again, she, Valmont and Merteuil are drawn into the final battle. Tourvel declares defeat first and Valmont leaves her. Seeing that Valmont has lost his love, Merteuil wants to savour her victory to the full. When Valmont asks her to belong to him, as a prize for his complicity in these intrigues, Merteuil humiliates him and destroys him with her rejection. Valmont understands that he himself is one of Merteuil's victims. Furthermore, he understands that he has lost his only true love - Tourvel forever.
The next ball begins with Merteuil's triumphant monologue. When Danceny arrives together with the other guests, he starts an erotic game with Merteuil. Valmont also wants to get closer, but he is again rejected by Merteuil. In desperation, he challenges Danceny to a duel. The duel ends with the death of Valmont who purposefully allows Danceny to stab him. With his last movement Valmont gives Danceny the rosary, the symbol of Tourvel's love. He wants her to know that he had always carried it close to his heart. The merriment of the ball continues. Tourvel appears among the guests and moves towards Valmont's body, wracked with pain. She retrieves her rosary and dies of sorrow next to her beloved. When Merteuil arrives to see Valmont and Tourvel united in death, she understands the emptiness of her victory and realises she is defeated. She is banished from society forever.