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Bel Ami review ★★½

Bel AmiReview by Jenny Priestley
Stars Robert Pattinson, Christina Ricci, Uma Thurman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Natalia Tena, Colm Meaney, James Lance, Holly Grainger, Philip Glenister, Pip Torrens

Written by
Rachel Bennette

Certification UK 15 | US R
Runtime 102 minutes
Directed by Declan Donnellan & Nick Ormerod


And so Pattinson's attempts to break free of Twilight continue. After spending time in early 21st century New York (Remember Me) and an early 20th century circus (Water For Elephants) we now find him in 18th century Paris. Pattinson plays Georges Duroy, a down on his luck, recently returned from war soldier. After a chance meeting with his former comrade Charles Forestier, Georges gains a foothold in Parisian society and is loathe to let it go, no matter who he has to love and betray to rise to the top.

It's an interesting choice for Pattinson, working with two very well regarded theatre directors on their first film. And they've surrounded him with some top acting talent - Uma Thurman, Christina Ricci, Kristin Scott Thomas, Philip Glenister and Colm Meaney. And their star does his best to reach his fellow actors' heights. The problem is, Georges is meant to be ruthless in his ascent to the top and the only time we ever really see any passion from Pattinson is when he flares his nostrils a bit and raises his voice. It's almost like he can't shake off the restraints of playing an unemotional vampire. Whilst everyone else is acting their way into the story, Pattinson's Georges just seems fey and bored and not nearly as callow as he's supposed to be. Of course, there are interesting parralels to draw with Georges' rise to fame and what's happened to Pattinson himself but it all gets a bit lost.

Of the support, Ricci stands out as Clotilde, the young Parisian wife (we never see her husband) who Georges courts, throws aside, and then returns to. Uma Thurman seems somewhat miscast as the woman Georges sets his sights on. This may be down to her subplot which involves political machinations which left me scratching my head a bit. Meanwhile Kristin Scott Thomas gets to play comedy and tragedy as another of Georges' conquests.

First time directors Declan Donnellan and Nick Omerod have made the jump from theatre to film and it shows. It all feels a bit stagey at times. It's a beautifully made film but lacks any real substance. One for the most devoted Pattinson fans I think.

Bel Ami at IMDb

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