Boyish toyboy pursues rich women

Last updated 12:00 26/07/2012
belami
LOTHARIO ON THE LOOSE: Robert Pattinson plays Georges Duroy, with Christina Ricci as Clotilde de Marelle in Bel Ami.

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REVIEW: Bel Ami
R18, 1hr 47min
Reviewed by Peter Lampp

Hey gents, if you ever spot Robert Pattinson wandering near your abode, lock up your wives and daughters.

As Georges Duroy, a former cavalry officer returned to 1890s Paris from Algeria, he is not merely a philanderer but an absolute plunderer of wealthy married women.

He arrives out of cockroach-ridden digs and gets work as a journalist thanks to a wife of a former comrade who dictates his articles. She is Madeleine Forestier, played marvellously by Uma Thurman.

The plot could be a fantasy for gold-digging lotharios fascinated by conquering women of high station and fashion, or for women desperate for a bit of young male. It is virtually a conveyor belt of lust-making with a classical musical score and at times a minimum of speech.

But while an English drama, it is the fifth film based on the 1885 French novel and doesn't follow the English rules of adultery. Surely the Brits would never allow a cad of peasant lineage to transcend the classes as this guy does.

For me, Pattinson was better suited to those Twilight movies. In this one he comes across as a too slender, boyish toyboy rather than a hunky lover, but I'll let womenfolk judge that.

He uses sex to satisfy his animal wants and to climb the Parisian social ladder while the women use it either as a weapon and to be perfectly happy as wanton mistresses.

He seduces each of three women simply by fluttering his eyelashes and that is less titillating than it should be. Good on Thurman though for taking the blaggard in hand and going at him furiously, as if she was racing to catch the 3.10 to Yuma.

Thurman plays a far more shrewd character than the usually great but always frisky Kristin Scott Thomas (Madame Walter).

Georges' first conquest, Clotilde (Christina Ricci), professes she likes everything in life as she cheekily pops a strawberry into her drink and isn't asked to tax herself with a whole deal of dialogue.

Overall, this is a scandalous soap about a scoundrel in too much of a rush.

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