What is there about social climbers that makes their stories irresistible? Guy de Maupassant’s Bel Ami, published in installments in nineteenth century-France, enthralled readers and has been adapted for the screen a number of times.
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The present version stars Robert Pattinson as Georges Duroy. It is filled with descriptions of the world of journalism, politics and banking which Duroy skims for maximum profit in his ascent to power, through mistresses and other connections.
Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod render the Paris of the time beautifully and the costume drama, with plenty of sex and intrigue, works on many levels. Uma Thurman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Christina Ricci, nicely fill out more than their décolletés. Yet the exercise is more dutiful than engaging. It may be that Pattinson, still a bit bloodless despite all the blood-sucking in his past history, remains as blank as in his previous incarnation in David Cronenberg’s “Cosmopolis.”
Feeling curious? We have the Bel Ami trailer, it’s available here: https://screencomment.com/movies/trailers/
But then, he’s not only the It Boy of the moment but gradually working his way to hopefully better-rounded performances.
As it is, Bel Ami, though playing like a lavish Masterpiece Theatre piece, is quite enjoyable.
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Photo credits: Studiocanal GmbH (Christina Ricci) / Columbia Pictures (Colm Meaney) / Studiocanal GmbH (Uma Thurman).