Bel Ami Reviews
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.
The story is about a cad, down on his luck until a chance meeting presents him with a golden opportunity. Pattinson sleepwalks his way through a gauntlet of bedroom scenes with various cast members, as his character proves more and more repulsive.
I found it difficult to identify with, or champion, any of the characters; which in my mind always makes for a lacklustre story. Christina Ricci's character came closest of all to winning me over, but they are all game players in a rather tedious and childish game.
I side with the critics on this one. Pattinson needs more than just a pretty face to carry a film. His weaknesses are heavily exposed by this script, which limply slips right off his shoulders.
Pattinson plays Georges Duroy, a penniless ex-NCO, who seduces and manipulates rich women despite a complete lack of wit or endowments. Besides not showing any of the charisma required by the part, Pattinson's rough features add further hindrance. The role would have suited an actor of refined handsomeness, to make the contrast with Georges personality even more striking. What we get instead is Pattinson's boxer nose, coupled with a flat delivery of his lines. It makes it hard to believe that so many women would find him irresistible
The story follows Duroy meeting in a brothel Forestier, a former comrade. For reasons impossible to understand, Forestier invites him to dinner and ends up offering Georges a job. During this dinner Georges meets three women willing to be manipulated like puppets, despite the fact that they all seem smarter than Georges.
The first is Clotilde is a rich, dizzy married woman, who just wants to be Georges lover at all costs. For their first sexual encounter, Georges invites her to his squalid abode and Clotilde decides to rent an expensive love nest to continue their relationship.
Madeleine is Forestier's wife, played by Thurman. She is an independent, clever woman who ends up marrying Georges, although she had absolutely no reason whatsoever to do so. Their relation is completely inexplicable.
Mme Rousset, played by Scott Thomas, is a middle aged married woman who loses her head for the completely charm-free Georges. The seduction scene that involves the two of them is cringe-inducing.
Finally, a fourth woman also falls for Georges, making the whole movie a sequel of sexual encounters strangely lacking any passion. Not bad for a boy who would hardly get a second glance, but incredibly tedious as a movie plot.
That's a great word for it!
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.