Bel Ami (15/R, 102 mins)
Directors: Declan Donnellan, Nick Ormerod
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
In Paris in the 1890s, Robert Pattinson is a penniless ex-soldier who meets an old colleague and falls into a newspaper job writing about his army experiences, something he has no real aptitude for. But he soon manages to set himself up as a gigolo, servicing the wives of the most powerful men in the city (Uma Thurman, Christina Ricci, Kristin Scott Thomas), and there’s a soulless dark wit in the way in which he uses his looks and charm to help him get ahead using their talent, influence and money. This latest version of Guy de Maupassant’s oft-filmed novel is handsomely appointed and rigorous in its amorality, which quickly becomes the film’s greatest weapon. Pattinson is very good indeed as a smug git, cold-eyed and calculating but with none of the overwrought pouting that blights the Twilight films where he found his fame. If you can buy him as an out and out scumbag, and view this as the blackest of comedies, then it’s a deliciously depraved treat.