Sunday 4 March 2012

Bel Ami review

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.


  1. I like your 'blackest of comedies' description. That's how I felt too, watching the movie. Its tone is satirical, tongue-in-cheek. It seems that some critics expected more dark drama, more social accusation (right word?) but I'm glad Donnellan and Ormerod kept the tone of the tale intact. Guy de Maupassant was a realistic author, on the verge of being naturalistic, but in this book his contemplation about life, which had to do with the fact he knew he was gonna die due to syphilis, wasn't really relevant to the story.
    He focused on the superfiality of his character in describing his thoughts versus his acts. Difficult to bring on screen but I admit that Robert Pattinson's performance came very close to the picture I had of Georges Duroy while reading the book. Kuddos to the actor and his ladies. Btw loved the setting and costumes.
    English isn't my first language.

  2. For someone whose first language isn't English, you write a lot better than most of the commenters on here!