From RPLife: Just a warning, this is obviously a review from an early test screening and as always, critics aren't usually nice about Rob or his movies. A review is a personal opinion and as Maria, from RPAU
mentioned: "this is typically similar to the reviews we read about Remember Me and we all know what we thought of those once we had seen Rob’s performance." This is me disagreeing with Craig
Review from Craig Roob at Director's Note
So I have an exclusive…OK well unless you were there too?!
I went to see Bel Ami at a test screening the other night in the darkened streets of Soho…OK, a swanky (yes I use that word, problem!?) hotel’s screening room.
The film based on French author Guy de Maupassant’s novel tells the story of Georges Duroy’s (Robert Pattinson…yes the vamp teen!) rise to power in the upper middle classes of late19th century Paris. Having spent his military service in Algeria George returns home near destitute. With the little money he earns, he frivolously succumbs to the more salubrious side of the capital’s nightspots and in particular to businesswomen of the night. Happily for him a chance encounter with an old army comrade – Charles Forestier (Philip Glenister, (yes, him off Life on Mars & Ashes to Ashes) sees his luck begin to change. His new life as a journalist on the newspaper Vie Francaise helped by Charles, who is the chief editor of the paper and his wife Madeline (Uma Thurman), the real power and talent behind the man. George meets and takes a married woman Clotilde de Marelle (Christina Ricci) for a lover and slowly but surely embroils himself into the lives of the rich and powerful. From here on George becomes increasingly amoral as he seduces and manipulates influential women to expand his power and wealth.
Ok so what did I think?
Well the 20something Pattison does fit the bill of the man George Duroy who women succumb too but in the end the character, much like the acting, is rather shallow, which of course author Guy de Maupassant knows, but the directors Declan Donnellan & Nick Ormerod fail to. The love interests are all superbly acted, as you would expect from such a trio, which also includes Kristin Scott Thomas. Colm Meaney is aptly aloof, superior and disdainful as Rousset and Philip Glenister puts in a memorable performance as Charles Forestier.
The subplot of the film, which is only touched upon in a few scenes, nods towards France’s impeding invasion of Morocco, which supposedly adds depth to the story and its characters. One problem I felt was that the balance of Bel Ami is wrong, in so much as the chance encounter with Charles happens so fast that you’re not given the opportunity to empathise with George.
The film runs like a class based Desperate Housewives yet is engrossing enough to follow but not to linger in your mind, unless you’ve been glamoured by Mr. P…yes yes he wont easily move away from the vamp tag yet. I do tip my hat to him for making an interesting choice albeit in a role I wished the producers had cast with a better actor, which would have made for a better review.
Maybe they were glamoured too – ‘leave it now mister!’
Finally – please remember this is a very early test screening and there will be changes made – I assume.
FYI: The name Bel Ami, which the daughter of his lover Clotilde bestows upon George, translates as ‘dear friend’ but is more akin to ‘lover’ especially in literature, so I’m informed.