|Still from Bel Ami|
Although on paper it seemed almost too good to be true, one cannot fault the decision of Sony Pictures to release Bel Ami straight-to-DVD. How does a Film with a Cast so stellar including porcelain-skin Hearththrob Robert Pattinson, Kristin Scott Thomas, Uma Thurman and Christina Ricci, not succeed? Surely the Story and intrigue are there too, this being an Adaptation of Guy de Maupassant's Novel of the same name.
Pattinson stars as Georges Duroy, an ex-Solider barely scraping-by as he looks to make it in a booming, cosmopolitan Paris in the late 1800s. He accepts a job with a respected Publication, Vie Francaise, with the help of Owner and Editor Monsieur Rousset (Colm Meaney), soon becoming an object of ridicule. Georges learns that the secret to having his way actually is charming some of Paris' most influencial Woman, particularly through the notches of their tightly-tied Corsets. Furthermore, these Women all know one another.
Hearts are broken and passions flare in this Web of Jealousy and Manipulation, as these Women become hopelessly invested in Georges. He charms the the vulnerable Clotilde (Ricci), the well-connected Madeleine (Thurman) and powerful Virginie (Thomas) - the latter actually being the Wife of Monsieur Rousset, going to all lengths in his ruthless bid for Power, Money and Control.
This all sounds incredibly alluring right? Bel Ami's greatest faults are Rachelle Bennette's Script lacking grace and Co-Directors Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod failing to give us a real sense of what's at stake for all involved here. We should care that despite being villainous, Georges accomplishes his Mission and revels in his delight while doing so. We should care that these Women are an torn apart on the inside for him, but somehow don't really feel it. Under different conditions, Bel Ami could have been a sexy, steampy, soapy Affair. This however is not to say that there aren't occasional moments of Brilliance. Pattinson's Meltdown moment is powerful, leaving Thomas begging for mercy on the floor. In the v. least though this Story is told concisely and that I applaud.
Sony Pictures Classics releases Bel Ami on DVD in Canada on August 7, 2012. Save this one for a quiet Sunday afternoon on the couch.