It must be awfully frustrating for Robert Pattinson and everyone involved in movies with him to be hamstrung by studios that want to take advantage of his Twilight fan base. There's no other explanation for this fangless adaptation of Guy de Maupassant's classic novel about a mercenary young lad who beds society ladies for political leverage. Oh and because he can.
As Georges Duroy the titular bel ami Pattinson skulks sulks and glowers his way through Paris in the 19th century. The dirt poor former solider runs into a comrade from the war who is now a powerful newspaper editor; Charles Forestier (Philip Glenister) who takes pity on the filthy drunk tosses him a few gold pieces and invites him to dinner. Madeleine Forestier is the brain behind the operation and she advises Duroy to cozy up to the other society ladies as they're the ones with the real power. Duroy gets a gig writing a column for the newspaper which Madeleine actually writes for him and his career as a professional grifter begins.
The plot of Bel Ami revolves around the political environment of France just before its invasion of Morocco as much as it does Duroy's love affairs. It's a major motivating factor for many of the characters one that has been watered down or edited out to the point where it's almost an afterthought. This takes away a lot of the urgency and the sort of backstabbing deliciousness that one would expect from a piece like this. The stakes aren't that high until near the end when they come to a sudden head. Before that the story was meandering between Duroy's dalliances with a married woman and how he's scamming the newspaper.
Christina Ricci plays Duroy's lover Clotilde one of Madeleine's friends and although she's married there's no weight to the affair other than to show the supposedly sexy sex that has been both part of the movie's hype and it would seem its main marketing problem. Marketing problems are relevant here because they generally mean more and more edits are made until what was once a coherent movie becomes a confusing mishmash through little fault of those directly involved.
Their scenes are moderately steamy for an R-rated movie. They're obviously not appropriate for his so-called fan base but it's obvious that even before the Twilight franchise was nearing its run that Pattinson wanted to take a stab at actual acting. Although Duroy is a sh*t it seems unlikely that the final cut of the film is all that true to the book or even the vision of those involved.
That's a shame since Bel Ami looks lovely even if it comes off as occasionally goofy. Ricci is beautiful but her character is banal. The men are all fairly interchangeable cigar-smoking society types or ink-stained writers. The most memorable thing about Uma Thurman's performance is how elegantly she smokes her cigarettes and how she treats Duroy's lovemaking as if it were less interesting than a fly landing on her arm. As one of the society women that Duroy beds as part of his scheming Kristin Scott Thomas goes from a typically no-nonsense married lady to a mewling quim. Pattinson can't seem to find the right balance between rage and sweetness; it's actually impossible to tell who he's in love with when or why until he bursts out with statements like "I was the one getting f*cked!" Or was the audience?
Wow. After watching Robert Pattinson basically grow up in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the Twilight saga and Water for Elephants, I'd basically give up hope that the twentysomething heartthrob could escape his soft-spoken typecasting and become the next Johnny Depp or Leonardo Dicaprio. But after a few snippets of scenes from his latest indie period drama Bel Ami, I'm starting to wonder if he's been hiding his real talents in order to survive the Twi-hards!
Based on a novel by Guy de Maupassant, Pattinson stars as George Duroy, a cunning former-soldier in 1890s Paris who uses his powers of seduction to sleep his way to the top. Co-starring are Uma Thurman, Kristin Scott Thomas and Christina Ricci as the various women Pattinson romances to their breaking point.
Period dramas always run the risk of becoming stuffy and impenetrable (think most of the Merchant Ivory flicks), but Bel Ami is up in the air. On one hand, the actual plot is difficult to follow (he marries who? sleeps with who? buys his top hat from who?), but on the other, Pattinson looks to extricate serious emotion here—to the point of veins popping on his forehead. That alone may make this one worth seeking out.
News of Thurman's broken engagement to the Swiss businessman hit the headlines on Tuesday (08Dec09), and prompted gossips and bloggers to start speculating that her new beau Pattinson - the actress' co-star in the upcoming Bel Ami - was behind the break-up.
A spokesperson for the Kill Bill star has confirmed she parted ways with Busson two months ago - but insists she won't meet with the Twilight star until they begin filming the drama next year (10).
The rep tells GossipCop.com, "That is actually funny. Uma hasn't even been in the same room as Pattinson."
Thurman will play a wealthy woman who is seduced by Pattinson's younger character in the movie, an adaptation of Guy de Maupassant's 1885 novel.
The Brit has been bombarded with scripts ever since he shot to fame as vampire Edward Cullen in the hit 2008 film - but he's still adjusting to the idea of being able to reject a role after years of taking whatever parts came his way.
And Pattinson admits he's nervous about being cast in big-budget movies - because he's only starred in one other film, Remember Me, since the Twilight series changed his life.
He tells MTV.com, "It's definitely different. You get offered stuff that you would never dream of getting offered before, but that's also scary. You don't have to audition for anything. (But) I don't want to do a movie just so it gets made. You have to question yourself a lot more. Before Twilight, I did any movie that I got (offered), and you'd try and make the best of it afterwards. But now, you're expected to come into the movie and provide not only economic viability, but also a performance as well. You can't just mess around. People are like, 'We're employing you to be here, as a star and an actor.' It's difficult, and it's scary."
But the 23 year old can expect some good advice about the movie business from the high-profile actors he's set to work with, including Uma Thurman, Rachel Weisz and Hugh Jackman.
He adds, "I'm doing a movie (with Thurman) called Bel Ami in February, an adaption to a Guy de Maupassant novel. And I'm doing - I hope - a Western with Rachel Weisz and Hugh Jackman called Unbound Captives sometime around there as well. They've got to try and juggle things around until everybody's schedules work."
The British hunk has become a megastar since landing the role of vampire Edward Cullen in the hugely successful Twilight franchise, but he insists he's most content portraying "weirdos" in independent films.
He tells Vanity Fair magazine, "There's no point (doing an action blockbuster) - I mean, I don't have any material desires at all. I wear the same clothes every single day. I don't buy anything. And I don't go out anymore either!"
Instead, Pattinson has chosen a low-budget Western based on the book Bel-Ami by Guy de Maupassant as his next movie project, playing a man who "thinks like an animal" and "just rips off and screws over all of his friends".
He says, "(When you play a weirdo), you can always have an excuse... 'He's a weirdo!'"