DIRECTORS Declan Donnellan, Nick Ormerod
CAST Robert Pattinson, Christina Ricci, Uma Thurman, Kristin Scott Thomas
A sumptuous adaptation by two esteemed British theatre directors of Guy de Maupassant’s novel, this is the story of a penniless young soldier’s ruthless rise to power in 1890s Paris. Using his wits and powers of seduction he climbs the social ladder by manipulating the city’s most influential and powerful women.
Based on the novel by Guy de Maupassant, Bel Ami chronicles the rise of penniless ex-soldier Georges Duroy (Robert Pattinson) through the echelons of the 1890s Parisian elite and is a tale of ambition, power and seduction. Also starring Uma Thurman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Christina Ricci and Colm Meaney. Bel Ami is a timeless epic with a modern twist. A Dangerous Liaisons for a new generation.
BBFC advice: Contains strong sex
“... Robert Pattinson brings an air of menace to the character of Bel Ami, hungrily eyeing the women in his path and smearing Paris with his sleazy glances and threatening sexuality. He might be amoral and at times pretty loathsome but it's to Pattinson's credit that he keeps the smarm metered, exuding a scandalous charm that the ladies in his company swoon over. He's sort of like Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights, only hornier. Added to the mix are a triad of winsome belles played by Christina Ricci (a young romantic), Uma Thurman (a politically ambitious firebrand) and Kristin Scott Thomas (an insecure housewife). In particular Ricci looks the part with her coquettish eyes and porcelain skin but it's Scott Thomas who does an exemplary task of bringing the simpering naivety of Virginie to life. It is the way these four play together that ensures the film's dark nature unfolds in an engaging way, paying due reverence to Maupassant's source (although a slight tweak to its ending was a wise move).
But no matter how much the film seduces, it still smacks of directors who are holding back a little. Sex scenes are brief, fleeting and poorly edited despite an overall sensuality and there are moments of emotional tension that are prevented from lingering as long as they should. It's never enough to really tarnish the whole but, given the source, there's a little too much restraint. That said, the window into a society of sexually liberated (for their time) women and corrupt men, coupled with the playful way in which the directors tease out similarities with modern relationships all make for surprisingly good fun, despite the grim tone.
Verdict - A brooding tale of sex and scheming that is brought to life by its cast. More playful than you might expect, it's still a deliciously dark period piece that stays true to the tone of the novel.”
UK RELEASE 9 March 2012
RUNNING TIME 102 minutes
COUNTRY UK / France / Italy
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