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Bel Ami


Stars: Robert Pattinson, Uma Thurman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Christina Ricci, Colm Meaney, Philip Glenister, Holliday Grainger, Natalia Tena, James Lance, Anthony Higgins, Thomas Arnold, Timothy Walker, Pip Torrens, Christopher Fulford, Amy Marston, Frank Dunne, George Potts, Eloise Webb

Director: Declan Donnellan & Nick Ormerod

Guy de Maupassant meets RPatz – now surely that’s a movie with a built-in critical ‘sneer factor’?


But all-too-easily achieved sneering isn’t always the correct response for a film that effectively targets its demographic audience which here, has to be Pattinson’s enormous fan base he has accumulated through the ‘Twilight’ movies.

So how does Pattinson come off without his vampire fangs?

Competently enough, and just what Bel Ami needs, as he deploys his buff body to seduce his way into wealthy society in 19th century Paris (attractively played by Budapest). “I’m hoping for better luck in Paris", the former soldier tells Glenister and he makes sure he gets it, along with wealth and position, by bedding Ricci, Thurman and Scott Thomas.

Donnellan and Ormerod’s unashamed star-driven story comes over like a lush riff on Alfie and reminded me irresistibly of those heady 1940s Gainsborough melodramas designed to capitalize on their players’ star personae with the added appeal of evocative production design (by the interestingly-named Attilla F Kovacs), costumes (Odile Dicks-Mireaux) and Stefano Falivene’s attractive cinematography.

Pattinson is well supported by Thurman, Ricci (finally casting off her ‘Addams Family’ image) and Thomas (who appears to be becoming obligatory in French-set movies) and who delivers yet another version of an essentially icy character whose uncontrolled sexual lusts are barely below the surface.

Pattinson may not entirely convince as the journalist and later, gossip columnist he plays on the way to making it grande in Paris but his star persona is enough for what the film wants while his female costars competently fill in the dramatic gaps.

Alan Frank

UK/France/Italy 2012. UK Distributor: StudioCanal. Colour.
102 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 09 Mar 2012