Scandalous Liaisons

Bel Ami

Beautiful Friend

A French Quartet!

Directors: Declan Donnellan & Nick Omerod

Cast: Robert Pattinson, Uma Thurman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Christina Ricci, Colm Meaney, Holliday Grainger, James Lance

Robert Pattinson is desperately attempting to shed his alter cinematic ego Edward Cullen now that the Twilight series has wrapped up and stars as Georges Duroy a manipulative and penniless soldier who returns to Paris in the 1880’s after fighting a colonial war in Algeria and soon rises to the heights of Parisian society through various indiscriminate sexual liaisons in the film adaptation of the 19th century writer Guy de Maupassant’s novel Bel Ami, meaning Beautiful Friend.

Uma Thurman is desperately trying to recapture that Parisian intrigue in Bel Ami starring as Madeliene Foster who soon becomes embroiled in an ill-fated love quadrangle with Georges and two other influential and wealthy woman. Unfortunately for Thurman, Bel Ami is no match to the extraordinary brilliance of Dangerous Liaisons the 1988 hit film starring Thurman along with the brilliant Glenn Close, John Malkovich and Michelle Pfeiffer and whilst the latter was skilfully directed by Stephen Frears with a razor-sharp script by Christopher Hampton, Bel Ami lacks the uniformity of vision which Dangerous Liaisons so clearly perfected as a masterpiece in drawing room cinema.

Kristin Scott Thomas is no stranger to scandalous period films and has starred in the Oscar Winning The English Patient along with Up at The Villa and Paul Schrader’s film The Walker and in Bel Ami, Scott Thomas plays Virginie Rousset a pliable 19th century cougar who falls victim to the charms and seduction of Georges played by Pattinson.

Christina Ricci seen in the fabulous retro series Pan Am is most famous for The Adams Family and Monster, stars as Clotilde de Marelle another wealthy Parisian housewife who assists Georges in climbing the social ladder rather rapidly in French Society to such a point where he abandons his former lovers and shocks everyone even his former employer, a newspaper editor Monsieur Rousset oddly played by Colm Meaney.

Bel Ami is a fun foursome period romp with some sultry sex scenes to spice up a rather vacuous tale of ambition, betrayal and seduction in 19th century Paris, but is no match to films in a similar genre most notably the brilliant Dangerous Liaisons and the equally enjoyable Belle Epoque set drawing room drama Cheri also directed by Stephen Frears and starring Michelle Pfeiffer, Rupert Friend and Kathy Bates.

For those who love scandalous liaisons and seduction with Robert Pattinson as the young ruthless seducer, then Bel Ami will most certainly appeal especially the final and rather hilarious wedding scene where Georges takes revenge on all those socialites who scorned him in his ambitious rise to power and wealth, a plot only to be found in a fashionable French novel.

Lacking in singular direction and a brilliant script, Bel Ami directed by Donald Declan and Nick Omerod is entertaining, slightly provocative and relies too heavily on raunchy sex scenes and occasional nudity than on the sophisticated art of seduction.

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