- Director:Declan Donnellan, Nick Ormerod
- Cast:Colm Meaney, Robert Pattinson, Christina Ricci, Kristin Scott Thomas, Uma Thurman
- Release Date:May 24, 2012
- Running time:102 minutes
- Film Worth:$12.50
- FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
The excellent female support cast saves this patchy effort, which is let down by its leading man and a flat screenplay.
Robert Pattinson is going to have to work harder than this to avoid any accusation that he has made it on good bone structure alone. In the right role, he has an undeniable charm... but this isn't one of those roles. Here, he is Georges Duroy, a man from a poor background seducing his way up the 19th century Parisian social ladder.
Based on Bel Ami, Or, The History Of A Scoundrel: A Novel by Guy De Maupassant, whatever complexity about social mores, politics and ruthless social climbers lay in the 1885 book goes over the heads of newcomer directors Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod. The romantic and sexual intrigue, however, does simmer at times, with Kristin Scott Thomas' Virginie Walters, Christina Ricci's Clotilde and Uma Thurman's Madeleine all wanting a piece of Pattinson's Georges. Scott-Thomas is funny when she's not supposed to be in her desperation, and Ricci is demure and impressive, but it's Thurman who owns this movie. Restrained, elegant and mature, this is a career-best for her. Despite said misgivings about the often-splendid Scott Thomas, it's this trio of women who throw Pattinson an acting lifeline - whether he grasps it or not is another matter. Scoundrels can make for great characters, but Pattinson plays it too flat. Blame the directors, blame the casting agent, blame Pattinson himself - something's not working.
Yet there is enjoyment here - the old-world atmosphere is beautifully realised, and while the story and star falter, the atmosphere and sense of time and place does not. Bel Ami also earns points for having the French characters speaking with consistent (Brit) accents. Although not a complete waste of time as a piece of escapism, it's rudimentary in its execution, and is ultimately immediately forgettable. Bel Ami is a soap opera in corsets that can't quite reach guilty pleasure status.