Bel Ami (2012)
Duration: 102 minutes
Directed by: Declan Donellan, Nick Ormerod
Starring: Robert Pattinson, Uma Thurman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Christina Ricci, Holliday Grainger, Philip Glenister, Colm Meaney, Natalia Tena
This adaptation of the 1885 novel by Guy de Maupassant stars Robert Pattinson as Georges Duroy, a completely amoral character who aspires to wealth and power and will do anything to reach his objectives.
The direction of the film is very theatrical...- Johan Galea
Coming from an essentially poor past, Duroy served in the army in Algeria and has now returned to Paris.
He is a veritable leech and uses his old army mentor – now editor of the La Vie Française newspaper, Charles Forestier (Philip Glenister) – to open society’s doors for him.
Mme Forestier (Uma Thurman) takes a liking to him and gives him a job at the newspaper.
Duroy ends up in the welcoming arms of her friend Clotilde (Christina Ricci) and when he feels the strain on his friendship with Charles, he ends up with the rather naïve Mme Rousset (Kristin Scott Thomas) whose husband is one of the paper’s top editors (Colm Meaney).
Duroy gets promoted and also given the nickname of Bel Ami (beautiful friend). Trouble, duplicity and tragedy will ensue, topped with a sense of unbridled lust.
The novel was quite controversial for its time and has been adapted to the silver screen several times, including a version in 1939 and in 1949.
The latter version, titled The Private Affairs of Bel Ami, starred George Sanders.
This modern update proves to be quite a brave step for Mr Pattinson as it completely eschews the Twilight style and makes him appeal to an audience who is looking for more serious fare.
This film shows that perhaps, after all, there is a chance that Mr Pattinson will not suffer the fate of other famous screen vampires such as Christopher Lee and Bela Lugosi.
However, it is the female cast that dominates the screen, with Cristina Ricci and Uma Thurman being particularly striking.
They offer two very different kinds of passion, which is very tangible on screen.
Ms Ricci is playful and brings the right kind of sassiness to a role that requires her to be lynx-like in attitude.
Ms Thurman, on the other hand, is given a role that needs to show pain and emotion.
The direction of the film is very theatrical and pleasing to the eye.
Thanks to the classy cast, the film is given its own signature and also provides Mr Pattinson with enough space and leeway to relieve him of the pressure of turning the film into a one-man-show.
At its core, the film has voracious and unforgiving characters and it is interesting to see how they interact with each other.