'Bel Ami' is a silly muddle set in 1890s Paris
"Bel Ami" — starring Robert Pattinson, Uma Thurman, Christina Ricci, Kristin Scott Thomas and Colm Meaney — is a mess of a movie, an "odd combination of melodramatic and dull," writes Seattle Times movie critic Moira Macdonald in this review.
Seattle Times movie critic
'Bel Ami,' with Robert Pattinson, Uma Thurman, Christina Ricci, Kristin Scott Thomas, Colm Meaney. Directed by Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod, from a screenplay by Rachel Bennette, based on the novel by Guy de Maupassant. 102 minutes. Rated R for some strong sexuality, nudity and brief language. Harvard Exit.
To hear "Bel Ami" tell it, everyone in 1890s Paris was rich, devious and sleeping with Robert Pattinson. This melodramatic muddle, directed by Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod and based on a Guy de Maupassant novel, is the rags-to-riches story of Georges Duroy (Pattinson), a young man of modest means who climbs the social and political ladder by way of various women. Early on, we see him with a prostitute; once their business is done, he moodily restyles her hair. Clearly he's a man of many talents.
Good actors flit in and out of the movie — particularly Kristin Scott Thomas and Colm Meaney — but no one seems able to conquer the essential silliness of it all, complete with heaving bosoms and exclamation points on all the dialogue ("You disgust me!" "But I love you!"). The directing is heavy-handed, particularly in its use of swirly, ominous music every time Georges hatches a new diabolical plan (also signaled by Pattinson looking pensively scheming, much as he does in the "Twilight" movies), and the pace is so slow you start desperately wishing for something unexpected to happen.
Mid-movie, Georges proposes to the lovely Madeleine (Uma Thurman) quite literally over her husband's corpse, as he's been warned that she "won't be a widow for long." Thurman, turning away, sighs and says that ah, she is not like other women — and surely I'm not the only viewer who was hoping she'd confess to being a vampire. Alas, no, and so goes "Bel Ami": an odd combination of melodramatic and dull.
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or email@example.com