Based on the novel By Guy de Maupassant Bel Amiis the story of poverty, greed, lust and jealousy.
Georges Duroy (Robert Pattinson) returns back to Paris after serving his time in an ongoing French war. With no means to support himself or any notable abilities to change his situation his life seems dire with only cockroaches to keep him company. A chance meeting with an ex comrade Forestier changes his life when he is introduced to his wife Madeline (Uma Thurman). From there on Duroy ruthlessly climes the social ladder, using his looks and charm to seduce the women behind the mighty men, each woman a new step on the ladder upward. As Georges preys on these beautiful, influential women, he grows colder and crueller using them for his selfish purposes with no regards to their feelings. Yet his peers, the men only see him as “Bel Ami”, the women’s plaything.
While the film is epic, the story is not and although the costumes and the sets are beautiful the acting is often flat. Robert Pattinson is not terrible, but he can’t shake his “Twilight” demeanour, which makes him unbelievable in the process. And sadly the many, many close-ups his fans will love seeing don’t do him any favours, as the mouth twitching and nostril flaring is all he seems to do in form acting.
Pattinson’s three main female counterparts are Uma Thurman, Christina Ricci and Kristin Scott-Thomas. Each in their own right strong actresses but only Ricci isconvincing in her role as the naïve and lovable Clothilde. She not only looks the part of a woman of the late 19th century but also is believable in her understanding and love for George. Thurman as Madeline is too modern, too masculine and also seems to have done something slightly odd(and very irritating) to her voice. Of the three the biggest let down is Scott-Thomas as the weak, infatuated Virginie. This actress normally always delivers yet in Bel Ami she can’t sell the part, which makes the weaknesses of the script all the more apparent.
Bel Ami is a costume drama that solely relies on big names to lure fans to watch it. With not much happening and only a few saucy scenes it is just not enough to be on par with Dangerous Liaisons. Of course the film will still be a box office hit as there are too many Twilight fans out there, who will not let the opportunity pass to see Pattinson.