Makes you wish for some sparkly-ass vampires and homoerotic werewolves...
In 19th century Paris, a young, frenchly named man called Georges (Robert Pattinson) returns from some soldiering to shag some worryingly dim lady types in order to ensure his financial future and zzzzzz…
Good lord but Bel Ami is dull. Here’s a tale featuring one of the biggest purported heart-throbs of modern times, sleeping his way across period Paris with a slew of attractive females and an underlying tale of revenge and tenacious social climbing.
But Georges actual motives are never clear and his character is so lacking in any obvious intelligence that to compare his thought processes to that of a amoeba would do a disservice to single celled organisms everywhere.
What you’re left with is a series of encounters where Georges generally aggravates every available male character before engaging in distinctly unappealing sexual congress with their every available female relation. Which would be fine if his aim was merely lustful conquests but there’s some suggestion that his actions have a goal, that’s he’s improving his social standing and moving away from the poverty trap of his family.
It’s hard to blame Pattinson for the failures of the film. A capable performer, especially as he’s now almost free of the yoke of Twilight, there’s no heft to Georges for him to work with. It’s still a lazy performance, at least partly reliant on the assumption that every woman alive would instantly want to sleep with the rather pasty fellow. But the film even fails to service to R-Patz fans, rarely lingering on him in a particularly flattering light. Though they might get a thrill from his bare arse on display.
The rest of the cast fares little better, though you might gain some amusement from trying to figure out exactly what Uma Thurman intended with her husky tones. Kristin Scott Thomas plays a role that should be despairing for laughs and a Christina Ricci turns up as an improbably thick character who scared the shit out of me with her inhumanly large eyes. Seriously, the chick looks like an alien who ate an alien who was made out of eyes.
My advice to the first time filmmakers (other than find a new career) is to get out the scissors and recut Bel Ami as a serial killer movie. You already have the leering looks of your lead, the supposedly deep moments where he sits in a darkened room and thinks – which seems to be giving the character too much credit. Add in the bizarrely ominous score, which couldn’t find a crescendo with GPS, and Georges relentless pursuit of these women and you’re really just missing a dash of claret.
Bel Ami doesn’t even get the little things right – for a period movie with a bunch of stars, the cinematography is murky and unimpressive, while there’s no attempt made to give us a glimpse of the contemporary detail of the city and even the costuming is dull.
In case it’s not yet clear, I am suggesting you actively avoid bearing witness to a single frame of Bel Ami. The only draw here, for a certain demographic, is Pattinson himself – and fans would find a better story and more well-rounded character development by staring at a poster of sparkly vampire Edward for two hours.