Bel Ami

28 Aug



Directors: Declan Donnellan, Nick Ormerod

Writers: Guy de Maupassant (novel), Rachel Bennette(screenplay)

Stars: Robert Pattinson, Uma Thurman and Kristin Scott Thomas

Motion Picture Rating: 15

Runtime: 102 minutes


No doubt the producers originally pitched this one as a ‘Dangerous Liaisons for a new generation’ so getting those type quotes from certain critics, mostly writing for women’s magazines, must have been satisfying. However, it’s a double-edged sword to be positioned alongside such a well-liked predecessor. In this case it is contextually helpful, putting Bel Ami in turn of the century Paris, but it is also dangerous to push Robert Pattinson as being in ‘the John Malkovich role’. And whilst the film-makers have conjured up good quality sets, costumes and music, it is in Pattinson that most of the problems with this film lie.

Pattinson plays Georges Duroy and the film is the story of his rise from lowly ex-soldier to high society mover and shaker via the beds of influential Parisian women. He starts with Christina Ricci, moves on to Uma Thurman and ends up with Kristin Scott Thomas whilst all the while pretending to be a savvy newspaper man. It is a simple story and was sub-titled by the author (Guy de Maupassant in 1885) as The History of a Scoundrel.

Having come from the Twilight franchise, it seems strange to me that Pattinson is allowed to turn up in decadent Paris ca. 1900 as a pale, sullen, and moody so-and-so. It’s almost Interview with a Vampire territory and it is far too close to his famous fanged alter ego for the good of this film. Pattinson in this carnation does not fit the period or the story. It is awful casting in, ironically, a bloodless film. Passion is nowhere to be seen and it is nonsense that the educated ladies of Paris fall for Georges Duroy with his stilted conversation, shabby clothes and strained smile. Pattinson is such a very long way from Malkovich. This is a poor film and does nothing for Pattinson and the rest of the cast, although it is good to see Christina Ricci back.

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