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****this review may contain spoilers****
'Come and meet my wife'
With these words Charles Forestier opens a new world for his former friend and ex-soldier Georges Duroy. A world where a poor, working man can only dream of. A world where the high society has its own rules, where sex is power, where power leads to connections, where connections lead to the top and where the top is dominated by corruption and intrigues.
It's the world of Belle Epoque Paris at the end of the 19th century, with its carriages and boudoirs,its beautiful salons and ladies in stunning dresses.
Georges Duroy, a poor, handsome man with no special talents but with the strong ambition to become rich and important, takes the invitation of his wealthy friend and puts his first steps on the social ladder. Uncertain and awkward in the beginning, looking how to behave in this elitist company he learns fast, conquers the hearts of the wives of influential men (by sleeping with them) to break them shamelessly when a better opportunity shows up.
Bel ami, film adaptation of the famous classic novel by Guy de Maupassant, is an adult tale of the rise of Georges Duroy to the top but also of the dubious and corrupt relationships between politicians and journalists. These themes are still actual and recognizable, which makes the movie very accessible. The film makers did a big effort in creating a wonderful setting as authentic as possible. Also the costumes are a joy to watch.
The performances were very well done IMO.
Though Robert Pattinson was only 23 when he took this role he held his own against experienced actresses as Uma Thurman, Christina Ricci and Kristin Scott Thomas who brought respectively the intelligent Madeleine, the frivolous Clotilde and the devote Virginie convincingly to life. Because of his strong screen presence and the way he showed Georges' evolution from a beginning casanova to the cad he became, Rob nailed the character and showed that he can have a bright future as an actor.
Bel ami, though it has dark themes, is entertaining and has more than once funny moments apart from several steamy sex scenes. It depends of each one's perception of the movie but I can't help but being amused by Georges'conquests or is it Robert Pattinson who has succeeded to make an unlikeable character likable?
If you love period movies, it's a must see. If you don't love them, you may do after Bel ami.
Uma - never better grade 10+, Kristin - good as usual grade 9, Christina - very good grade 9+, Robert - painful to watch, barely 1. With his bland and totally misguided performance, he managed to ruin the film that would otherwise been good. What were those face expressions?!? Wasn't he supposed to be attractive, desirable, full of sex-appeal? Why no one told him that? Why no one told him that he's not playing a vampire anymore? In fact, it would be great if he played that Twilight vampire, here he obviously rehearsed for a vampire hit by the first rays of sun, just about to experience slow and very painful death. Exactly how I felt while watching him... And no, I don't think he's a bad actor generally, he was just huge miscast for this role. And you just can't have good movie with such a huge miscast in a leading role.
I was fully surprised by how much I enjoyed this film. I love the book,
so was sure I'd be disappointed by the movie, which is typically the
case. I was also skeptical of the casting, particularly of the lead
role. But even so, I couldn't NOT see it.
I soon found myself completely taken in, watching the vision in my head (from reading the book) come to life on screen. The wardrobe and sets and music and lighting were rich and beautiful. The pace was excellent and kept me engaged every minute - the time just flew by.
I was also completely won over by the casting, including Pattinson in the lead role, which was probably the biggest surprise. Not only did he manage to hold his own in the role and with a far more experienced cast, he completely nailed George Duvoy. This required him to convey a depth and range of nuanced emotions and intentions through expression and tone and manner as well as interpretation of script. Kudos must go to the director as well.
Some of the criticisms of the story or of the Duvoy character are mistakenly pinned on the actor's performance, when what they are really reacting to is actually how the character is depicted in the book. That's an argument for the author, not the actor or director. So I have to assume they haven't read the book or would not like it if they did. And certainly there are a lot of people who just can't be objective about Pattinson because of a strong need to belittle his teen idle celebrity and association with the tweenage-targeted Twilight films.
I do think the movie is probably more enjoyable for those who have read the book and can, therefore, connect the dots and fill the gaps that a movie just doesn't have time to do - but that's true of any movie that tries to stay true to the book.
I highly recommend the movie (and the book) to anyone who loves period dramas with great characters. It is beautifully done.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The choice of Robert Pattinson as the hero, or antihero of Guy de Maupassant's novel is probably the main reason for the overall failure of the movie adaptation. Missing the artistic maturity necessary to sustain the depth of a complex character, he seems to feel uncomfortable in his role, and whereas at the beginning his pale, embarrassed face and posture may be suitable for the part of a former poor soldier entering the glittering world of high society, once he is part of it, those same face and posture reveal his true feeling ill at ease in what is a totally unsuitable role for him. That's why the story, centred on his figure, develops in a boring, pedantic way, showing no punch and no real pathos, in search for a bounce that never comes. Nothing to say against the brilliant female performances,the frivolous Christina Ricci is the only one who enlivens the pale and inexpressive face of Georges, but Uma Thurman and Kristin Scott Thomas compete for the best performance, the first perfect in the role of the ambiguous Madeleine, and the latter courageous in her role of an ageing married woman, losing her mind for a young lover, and the last scene with her dressed in black at her daughter's marriage to Georges proves the only vivid moment within the whole picture.
Bel ami is a huge disappointment for those who are familiar with Guy de
Maupassant's novel of the same name, or for those who have seen George
Duroy in movies or in TV! Acceptable the fact that the whole novel
might not fit into the cinematic body, nonetheless the caspuled version
falls flat, and for me, this turns out to be the worst adapted
screenplays of all time!
To start with, the casting went terribly wrong, Robert Pattinson never came close to portraying George - still in colored shades of Cedric Gregory and the vampire boy. The screenplay like i mentioned added to the misery, overemphasizing on certain aspects which did mar the intensity of the plot, and then underplaying the characters and the drama as if we were getting to see knitted episodes from a TV series. The saving grace comes in form of the background score which was brilliant - how i wished to see an appeasing drama for the music!!
To sum it up, this was a real disappointment for me, i wouldn't have minded watching a 3 hour drama (the movie really had the stuff to be that long)but this was just a capsuled dose of what i craved for - the ensemble cast and the build up to the release had sedated me, it just blows :( 4/10
I can see that a lot of people didn't like the movie. And it makes
sense, because this is not fancy, nor does it try to be popular. And
there is no big story backing this up either. But you can see by my
rating that I did like it. I have to admit, I'm not a fan of those
Twilight movies (though the first one did exactly what it promised ...
for the target audience). But Robert P. does show that there is more to
him than glitter and pouting. Of course there was "Remember me" and
other movies that would back that up, but this is the first movie where
he has a stellar cast beside him, that also works as a drama.
There is a dark and sinister side to the character he is playing here and there are a lot of nice little moments where the "true" character is coming to light and shows his true colors. The performance is brilliant, but will be overlooked by a few for obvious reasons. Still, if you like drama movies with great performances, you probably will like this too.
The storyline and setting for the book is well known, but this film
focuses on the main character's development into a ruthless and
determined man who will stop at nothing to ensure he does not return to
his previous life of poverty and hardship. Robert Pattinson's
interpretation is entirely rational and believable.
At the start of the film we see Georges hungry living in conditions that would lead anyone to become desperate. He sees the rich squandering their wealth and when a turn of fate allows him to enter this world he grabs it and initially cannot believe his good luck. However the men who made him decide they no longer want to support him leading him to take his revenge. He has learnt that everyone in these circles is flawed and are willing to take risks in order to get what they want, so he feels that he can do the same.
Robert Pattinson demonstrates that he has grown as an actor and is building on his previous roles.
Go and see this film you will not be disappointed.
Brilliant, absolutely brilliant!!!
having read the book not only once,
in German but also in French, I was impressed by this movie adaptation
of the French classic novel by Guy de Maupassant (5 August 1850 6
July 1893) .
I must admit however, that the events happen very fast (it is very hard to pack such an intense and complex story into 160minutes) and it's mainly fully understandable to those who have actually read, loved, discussed and grasped the novel. The movie incorporates many swift innuendos and hints at passages taken directly from the novel. It is is very accurate to, and there are even scenes and dialogues straight from, the novel. The relevant essence of 19th century French society rules is obvious. And even though the director skips some of the specific historical and political details, the viewer gets indications and references to catch on. The actors/characters from the book, especially the ladies in question, couldn't be cast more perfectly Uma Thurman, the immaculate representation of Madeleine int he novel, Kristin Scott- Thomas, ditto as Virginie with her age, looks and temperament and Christina Ricci, down-to- earth, less intellectual but utterly sensual (maybe with a little exception of Ricci who played Clotilde's character perfectly, but should have been more voluptuous physically).
Robert Pattinson impersonated the poor protagonist George Duroy, without name nor heritage, however street-smart and snobbish, yet still sensitive and compassionate arriviste George Duroy, just as I imagined so many years ago upon reading the book. You might despise or pity, but you will always love him in the meantime. Beautiful authentic settings, costumes and props and the soundtrack just gets under your the skin, courtesy of . If you still question Robert Pattison as an actor (which I did, but do no more) then at least you may praise the direction of Declan Donnellan & Nick Ormerod . for the movie is simply very good, VERY Good indeed...
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Robert Pattinson is probably trying very hard to shake off his
glittering vampire role in Twilight that had earned him millions of
fans and followers worldwide, opting to play a shady character who's
not very talented, but possessing enough good looks to tempt and seduce
his way up the social ladder in 20th century Paris, and to chase fame
and fortune by milking the right female connections in his established
network. He's a cad with a capital C, without much of a plan except to
sleep his way to get what he wants.
The story, by Rachel Bennette based on the 1885 French novel by Guy de Maupassant, deals with the notion of how far good looks can get one ahead in life when one is without much talent or smarts, having a number of doors that can be opened from a simple praise, or a smile, and to have urges satisfied by being emotionally and physically available, even if the former mindset and actions are nothing more than a little play pretense.
This is the classic rags to riches story and the story about insatiable greed in always wanting something more, or someone more beautiful. Pattinson plays Georges Duroy, an impoverished man who just came back from the war front, and given a leg up in life when he runs into an old acquaintance who himself is married to old money. Pattinson almost sets his eye on his friend's wife Madeleine Forestler (Uma Thurman), if not for her to spurn his advances and to set the record straight that she's there only to help him initially in his job as a columnist..
It is Madeleine's doing however, to set him off into the arms of her friend Clotilde de Marelle (Christina Ricci), whose husband is almost always out of town, and soon both Georges and Clotilde become adulterous lovers, made all the more convenient when Clotilde gets their own love nest where they can carry out their illicit affair. In effect Clotilde becomes his sugar mommy, and of course tongues will start to wag and Georges becomes increasingly erratic in not able to control his emotions, before ruining a life that's perfectly set up. But second chances always present themselves, and Georges couldn't get it any better with being reinstated in his job thanks to Virginie Walters (Kristin Scott Thomas), and ultimately being able to get married to Madeleine.
But life isn't all that rosy, with Madeleine spending a lot of time on politics behind the scenes of a revolution spear-headed by the newspaper and editors Georges works for, and herself having her own lovers that Georges was warned way early of, and when Georges starts to plot, things get very ugly indeed as his true colours start to show, emotionally breaking Virginie, and unleashing his vengeance on Madeleine, made all the more worst when he felt he had been played out of a huge chunk of wealth, and going after the innocence of Suzanne Rousset (Holliday Grainger) as revenge against her father and his one-time corporate nemesis.
And the surprise package here is Pattinson. Sure we can take out potshots and laugh at his turn as the glittering, pale vampire involved in a romance that doesn't know when to call it quits, but his effort here as the amorous and the evil Georges Duroy is something to sit up and take notice. But of course the women surrounding him all made him look good as well, with Christina Ricci being relatively underrated here as a woman desperate for true love, while Uma Thurman does quite the about turn now from her early debut during Dangerous Liaisons, progressing from what was once the equivalent of a Suzanne Rousset, to an ambitious woman who will do what it takes to secure a stake in the power play amongst men. Kristin Scott Thomas is perhaps the most underused here, only appearing in a handful of scenes toward the end, playing the most vulnerable of the female characters bearing full brunt of Georges Duroy at his most despicable.
Directors Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod has quite a classy film in their hands, with lush sets and costumes transporting the reader instantly to a period Paris, and with the quality of cast at their disposal, delivered an intensely engaging drama about the temptation and seduction of power, and the incessant obsession with the climbing of the social ladder given the promises of fame and fortune that comes automatically with the ascension of each rung. Recommended!
Watching the film was horrible for me. Indeed I read the book. It's writer is Guy de Maupassant, a famous classic novelist. I learned about him at school and his novels belong to the cultural goods of France. Guy de Maupassant manages to describe the personality of his main characters throughout their actions and is always very dramatic. But his characters always have a deeper meaning and portray the "evil" and the "good" of a society. Well this film has nothing of de Maupassant's novel in it. The characters are superficial, the relations between the main characters are not developed and very important facts are not shown in the film, which makes it very difficult to understand the message of the film if the book is unknown to the audience. That's what makes it awful to me, because Guy de Maupassant always had a message he wanted to tell throughout his novels. This film destroys it. If one cannot adapt a book into a film, then just let it be! please! Or just produce mini-series to cope with the complexity of the book. But yeah, mini-series wouldn't make as much money and wouldn't gather as much attention.....
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