Bel Ami Reviews
This is a really well acted movie. Robert is quite convincing and you do see that all is not smiles as he seems to be on the surface. The women are also well written and convincing. The sex scene with him and Uma is quite brutal in an unexpected way. Actually hard to watch even though nothing is really shown.
Quite a dark little movie.
Not so great of a movie! The choice of Robert Pattinson as the hero, or antihero of Guy de Maupassant's novel is probably the main reason for the overall failure of the movie adaptation. Missing the artistic maturity necessary to sustain the depth of a complex character, he seems to feel uncomfortable in his role, and whereas at the beginning his pale, embarrassed face and posture may be suitable for the part of a former poor soldier entering the glittering world of high society, once he is part of it, those same face and posture reveal his true feeling ill at ease in what is a totally unsuitable role for him. That's why the story, centred on his figure, develops in a boring, pedantic way, showing no punch and no real pathos, in search for a bounce that never comes. Nothing to say against the brilliant female performances,the frivolous Christina Ricci is the only one who enlivens the pale and inexpressive face of Georges, but Uma Thurman and Kristin Scott Thomas compete for the best performance, the first perfect in the role of the ambiguous Madeleine, and the latter courageous in her role of an ageing married woman, losing her mind for a young lover, and the last scene with her dressed in black at her daughter's marriage to Georges proves the only vivid moment within the whole picture.
Georges Duroy is a penniless soldier returning from war. He travels to Paris in a search for ways to improve his social and financial status. He uses his wit and powers of seduction to charm wealthy women.
While a great looking movie with promise, "Bel Ami," at the same time, cannot decide on what kind of movie it wants to be nor what it thinks of its anti-hero who intends to sleep his way to the top, both critical flaws.(I'd personally go for pitch black farce, myself.) Of course, it does not help that we get another cruel reminder that we will be stuck with Robert Pattinson for the foreseeable future. Otherwise, Christina Ricci is proof positive of the law of diminishing returns while Uma Thurman is neither here nor there. And Colm Meaney is much better playing a nineteenth century robber baron on "Hell on Wheels." But at least Kristin Scott Thomas gets it, stealing the movie with the few scenes she is in while even getting something meaningful out of Pattinson, reminding us what people may have seen in him in the first place.
The story is based on the 1885 French novel of the same name by Guy de Maupassant which is a wonderful and very enjoyable work... while the film Bel Ami contains more soapy pleasures rushing through the real story. Robert Pattinson was in a role of Georges Duroy (Pattinson describes Duroy as being "completely amoral"), Uma Thurman was Madeleine Forestier, Duroy's secret love interest, and later wife, Kristin Scott Thomas was Madame Walter, whose lover Duroy becomes to further his interests, Christina Ricci as Clotilde de Marelle, who even though married genuinely loves Duroy, and Colm Meaney as Rousset. Not a bad casting.
It was obvious that directors targeted the art film audience, premiering the film out of competition at the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival, but not many could see the artistic value in it. To me, it seems that 9 million could be spent on something with more substance. Watchable, but not special.
Things begin promisingly with a bedraggled and disheveled George looking through the windows of a Paris restaurant, watching the rich enjoy their privileges. Despite Pattinson's talents, the script from Rachel Bennette is mostly devoid of real substance, it's all sweeping generalizations that are easily connected, especially when the script makes it painfully obvious George's only talent is seduction. Directors Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod, who both have roots in the theatre, give the film a frustrating structure that only plays into encounters between George and various women that come off vapidly.
Enter Uma Thurman as Madeleine, wife of George's former army pal Charles Forestier (Philip Glenister), and political editor of La Vie Francaise. Because of Madeleine, George welcomes a job with the paper and so deludes himself that he is talented. And in between beds the married Clotilde (Christina Ricci, the most vibrant thing in the movie) and Virginie (Kristen Scott Thomas), wife of the paper's editor (Colm Meaney). A terrific cast that goes down in flames. Bel Ami should have been electrifying and palpably erotic. Instead it just lands with a thud. Here's hoping Pattinson's turn in David Cronenberg's Cosmopolis is far more cheer-worthy.
This is a flat, dull, badly directed costume drama with an equally flat performance by Pattinson whose only job is to give smoldering glances at women.