DVD Review: Bel Ami

It’s easy to see why Robert Pattinson would want to make this film. He gets to make out with a bunch of gorgeous women including Christina Ricci, Uma Thurman and Kristin Scott Thomas. Also, he also gets to play a slimeball, rapscallion, which I don’t think he’s done yet. However, that still doesn’t make it a good film.

In fact, Bel Ami is about as dull as a film can get. Pattinson plays Georges Duroy, an ex-soldier in late 1800s Paris who lies and sleeps his way into high society. First he seduces Clotilde de Marelle (Ricci), then he marries Madeleine Forestier (Thurman) when her husband dies. As if that wasn’t enough, later he has an affair with Virginie Rousset (Thomas). All while acting like the smarmy jerk that he is and flashing his pretty eyes and smile at the ladies.

You’d think the film would at least by super sexy, but it really isn’t. The sex scenes are extremely tame by most standards and just as dull as everything else this film has to offer. I get that Duroy is supposed to be a scumbag, and that’s fine, but he could at least be an interesting scumbag.

I’m not sure if it’s poor writing on the part of screenwriter Rachel Bennette or the stilted performance from Pattinson that prevents Bel Ami from being interesting. Or perhaps it is the tragic combination of both. Either way, the film fails to be interesting and Pattinson is not nearly strong enough an actor here to keep the audience interested. Or perhaps, the performances actually are good, but the film is just so boring that I didn’t notice, but I seriously doubt it.

The most unbelievable thing about Bel Ami is how far Duroy is able to make it in high society. He’s such an unpleasant and short sighted man it’s hard to believe that anyone was fooled by him, even the women who swoon at his smile. I can’t help but think about Will Smith in Six Degrees Of Separation, but at least he was charming. Duroy is just a jerk.

There have been plenty of films over the years about a poor person rising to power, often in the 1800s. If you want to watch a film in this vein, throw on Barry Lyndon, at least that is a gorgeously shot film. But it had Stanley Kubrick at the helm so you knew it would look good.

The film is presented in 2.35:1 widescreen format and 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound. The film looks and sounds fine, but that’s not enough to distract from the rest of the film.

Behind the Scenes: (6 min.) A typical look at the film with very generic interviews. No real insight. Just as dull as the film itself.

I do think that Robert Pattinson will be able to, one day, out grow Twilight. He showed signs of it in Water For Elephants and though I haven’t seen Cosmopolis yet, it looks very promising. However, Bel Ami is going to make anyone forget anything. However, I’m sure some of the ladies watching this film will wish they were one of the ladies in the film. I would also like to add that in non-Twilight films of 2012 featuring Pattinson or Kristen Stewart, Bel Ami with all its faults, is still a much better film than Snow White and the Huntsman. Take that K-Stew!

Sony Picuters presents Bel Ami. Written by Rachel Bennette. Based on the novel by Guy de Maupassant. Directed by: Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod. Starring: Robert Pattinson, Uma Thurman, Christina Ricci and Kristin Scott Thomas. Running time: 102 minutes. Rating: R for some strong sexuality, nudity and brief language. Released: August 7, 2012. Available at Amazon.com.

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