If I said to you “Robert Pattinson” what would be the first thing that popped into your head?
Chances are you’d picture the English megastar as Edward, the vampire from the Twilight movies or perhaps, if you’re a Hogwarts’ fan, you’d imagine him as Cedric Diggory from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
If you’re into women’s magazines then your thoughts would probably go to his very public relationship issues with his Twilight costar Kristen Stewart.
Me? I picture him as a complete jerk by the name of Georges Duroy, the main character in the costume drama Bel Ami (M).
Pattinson, 26, is a big deal.
According to Time magazine he was the one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2010.
Forbes reckoned he was one of the world’s most powerful celebrities in the same year.
Hollywood can’t get enough of him, he has appeared on countless sexiest man alive lists and, according to GQ, he is one of the best-dressed blokes around.
He is also seriously rich.
Unlike most people on the planet I have yet to see either a Harry Potter or a Twilight film.
I know that’s a professional failing but, to be blunt, I just don’t dig wizards or vampires.
If I were ever to run into Pattinson at the pub, though, there would be two things I’d want to say to him. The first is “good on you”, the second: “enjoy it while it lasts”. The latter because from what I can tell from watching Bel Ami, Pattinson’s career is based almost entirely on his looks and not the kind of talent that leads to long and distinguished careers.
Based on a French novel published in 1885, Bel Ami tells the rather Dangerous Liaisons-like story of a manipulative, selfish, self-absorbed creep and his successful rise from a virtual peasant to a wealthy man through the seduction of various Parisian women of influence.
The film is directed by a couple of blokes with a background in theatre, Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod, and co-stars Uma Thurman, Christina Ricci and Kristin Scott Thomas as George’s conquests.
The women are all fine. In fact, Ricci is very endearing.
The costumes are nice and visually it’s as handsome as you’d expect.
The directing duo prove they know how to frame a nice shot but they still have a thing or two to learn about creating the atmosphere and excitement you need to make a memorable movie.
An entertaining screenplay would have also come in handy.
The biggest problem, though, is the film’s leading man, who gives a performance that recalls the title of the Nicky Hager book that ended Don Brash’s leadership of the National Party.
In other words, it’s hollow as.
Seriously, it’s like he is not there. Pattinson poses, pouts, grins and glares but none of it is likely to register with anyone in the audience over the age of 20.
On the rare occasions I did notice him it was because he seemed surprisingly self-conscious; like he knew he was out of his depth and had realised he couldn’t just let his cheekbones do the work.
I know that sounds mean but I don’t remember the last time I saw such a big name turn out to be as much of a lightweight.
Hopefully for him and moviegoers Bel Ami is just speed wobble and my predictions for a brief but lucrative career are proven wrong.
He is getting some positive reviews for his appearance in director David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis and will work with Australian writer and director David Michod on his follow-up to 2010’s brilliant Animal Kingdom.
If I were Pattinson, though, I’d be taking a close look at my investments and planning to retire at 35.
Bottom line: Not very good.