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Bel Ami

Bel Ami

Released 9 March 2012
Director Declan Donnellan, Nick Ormerod

Robert Pattinson, Uma Thurman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Christina Ricci, Colm Meaney, Natalia Tena
Writer(s) Rachel Bennette
Producer(s) Uberto Pasolini
Origin United Kingdom, France, Italy
Running Time 102 minutes
Genre Drama
Rating 16

A failed marriage.

What is there to say about Robert Pattinson? In a way, I feel sorry for him because it is going to be incredibly difficult, in the near future especially, to break out from the mould of his Twilight character. Of course, this is something that has brought him immense fame and fortune. On the other hand, he is an actor – well, apparently – and it is up to him to escape the vampire role and go about successfully sticking his teeth into other projects. Bel Ami is a case of tried and failed, unfortunately.

Set in late nineteenth century Paris, George Duroy is just out of the army when he stumbles into an old war buddy who offers him the opportunity to make money with a powerful newspaper publication in the city. Blessed with dashingly good looks and a quietly confident charm that entices every influential married woman that he comes into contact with, George sets about having his way with each and all of them, hoping to continue his meteoric rise in status along with it.

Now, based on the novel of the same name, this movie is quite clearly supposed to be raunchy, artistic and cultured of a hedonist period. What it turns out to be is very little more than the brief synopsis above, drawn out increasingly slowly and sometimes at a snail's pace. Indeed, there are moments when you are wondering whether the movie is in fact moving forward or just circling egotistically in its own smarm.

Pattinson's performance is bland and uninspiring. He relies too heavily on a slick wardrobe and an infuriating grin that I guess is supposed to woo an entranced audience. While supported by an excellent cast, you are left feeling little emotion towards any of George's conquests, or whatever you want to call them, as they each come and go.

The only time when there is a possibility of building up a significant sense of connection is with the talented Christina Ricci's Clotilde. Sadly, though, she disappears for most of the middle section of the movie. By all accounts, this is probably a captivating read but Bel Ami has not been translated well onto the big screen.

- David Caulfield