Robert Pattinson plays Georges Duroy, a soldier who claws his way out of poverty by using his irresistible charms on the city's most influential and wealthy women: Madeleine (Uma Thurman), Madame Rousset (Kristin Scott Thomas) and Clotilde (Christina Ricci).
‘Bel Ami’ is the 1885 Guy de Maupassant novel about Georges Duroy, a young man who seduces women so he can rise above the ranks and become rich. Yes, during Paris’ Belle Epoque, there were already gold diggers and not all of them are women. In the film adaptation, ‘Bel Ami’ tests Robert Pattinson’s mettle as he lays one woman to the next to reach the summit of his goal. With his leading ladies Uma Thurman, Cristina Ricci, and Kristin Scott Thomas, Pattinson has great options to pick from.
‘Bel Ami’ is opulent with the costumes and set pieces; we do believe it is turn of the century Paris. But it’s hard to believe that ‘Twilight’ hunk Robert Pattinson is great at seduction. As it is, he looks uneasy doing the bedding of women.
In the novel, Georges is fully-equipped with the skills and is confident with what he’s doing. Pattinson’s Georges, however, is somewhat uncertain and disgusted by his chosen vocation. It’s evident on the close-ups of his face on the big screen. Obviously, subtlety is not yet Pattinson’s strong suit. We’ll give him a break; ‘Bel Ami’ was his first foray into adult territory after being crowned the new heartthrob, thanks to ‘Twilight’. The film is not exactly the kind of material you take with such inexperience. The first-time film directors Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod, typical theater folk, join Pattinson’s inexperience as well. The film makers got the production design right but forgot about the power of restraint when it comes to cinema.
As for ‘Bel Ami’ and its female cast, this is the best yet. You know that Kristin Scott Thomas can do more but she phoned in her performance here. Uma Thurman is over the top, revisiting her ‘Dangerous Liaisons’ past. But the most impressive is Cristina Ricci, the young wife of a rich and powerful man who can be the only one who totally understands Georges because she is pretty much just like him.
‘Bel Ami’ is worth seeing for its ambition; unfortunately, it stumbles and has a hard time getting up after that.
Interviews: Robert Pattinson, Uma Thurman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Christina Ricci, Colm Meaney, Holliday Grainger, Directors Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod, Screenwriter Rachel Bennette, Costume Designer Odile Dicks-Mireaux,
Production Designer Attila F. Kovacs, Make-Up and Hair Designer Denny Shircore
Behind the Scenes
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