Today: April 16, 2024

Bel Ami

Can we clear one thing up before we start concerning star of Bel Ami Robert Pattinson.

Can we clear one
thing up before we start concerning star of Bel Ami Robert Pattinson.
The
boy can’t act. Yes, he looks the part with his brooding glances, pouting lips
and knowing smirks but alas, these elements aren’t enough to allow him to carry
a film of any weight.

In the Twilight movies his pale beauty and repertoire of
meaningful looks works just fine, and he is arguably carried by other, more
powerful actors (like real-life sweetheart Kirsten
Stewart
). In Bel Ami, a fin de siècle romp with a strong cast – including
Ireland’s Colm Meaney, Christina Ricci and the exquisite Kristen Scott Thomas – it’s more Carry
On up the Seine than Dangerous Liaisons, and he fails to cut the mustard.

It’s Paris, the year is 1890, and the downtrodden son of
country peasants George Duroy (Pattison), back from the war and more used to a
roach-infested garrett, launches himself and the weight of his considerable
ambition into a decadent social scene of prostitutes, opulent salons, high
society ladies and bombastic French dancehall music.

In a sexy can-can joint full of winking ladies, he meets one
of his former comrade at arms, who tempts him with the words: “If you can’t
succeed here, you might as well lie down and die. Even the whores are getting
rich.” It’s all there for the taking, and Duroy certainly has the bare-faced
cheek to try.

Soon, he has quite a name for himself across town as he
beds, distracts and manipulates the most important women in the capital – and
through them, their important husbands, to secure his future reputation and
wealth. One of these is Madeleine
(a breathy Uma Thurman), who tells
him early on that “the most important people in Paris are not the men – they
are their wives.” He takes her at her word.

So, who is Duroy? A convincing social-climber who combines
political astuteness with a cunning knowledge of sexual politics? Not really. All
too late, the vacuous ‘Bel Ami’ as his ladies have begun to call him, realises
he is a pawn in a bigger game than even he could not have imagined, and it’s
one that might see him fall despite all his best efforts in and out of the
bedroom.

If you don’t expect an Oscar-winning performance from
Pattison and are content to take in the luscious sets, beautiful costumes and the
recreation of a seductive slice of 1890s Parisian life, then Bel Ami is an
enjoyable film.

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com

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