Review: Bel Ami

There are few stories I relish as much as those that centre around some sort of societal ascension. There’s something quite delicious about watching a character weave around his or her class status to infiltrate a rarefied arena, only to inevitably become a victim of its corruptive influence.

So I was naturally excited to see this film, based on one of the few novels by that French master of the sardonic short story, Guy De Maupassant.

Unfortunately it’s a superficially-rendered tale, without enough character conviction or forward movement. Pattinson’s protagonist stumbles his way through various women, whimpering all the way and rarely seeming like a master of his own destiny.

His three paramours – Uma Thurman; Kristin Scott Thomas and Christina Ricci – acquit themselves with dignity, but the clunky script lets them down. Ricci gives the most interesting performance of the three, and demonstrates talents that prove she is underutilised in modern cinema.

Pattinson (whose eyes look suspiciously vampirish in the poster for this film) fails to step up and command this film with his performance, and never settles on anything definitive for his character. But he looks the part I suppose.

There’s a lushness to the proceedings here that may carry some people along, but anyone expecting Ripley-esque thrills will be sorely disappointed.