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DVD Review: Bel Ami

August 7, 2012

Bel Ami – A Sony Pictures Classics’ Release

http://www.magpictures.com/belami/

DVD Release Date: August 7th, 2012

Rated 14A for nudity, sexual content and tobacco use

Running time: 102 minutes

Declan Donnellan (dir.)

Nick Ormerod (dir.)

Rachel Bennette (screenplay)

Based on the novel by Guy de Maupassant

Lakshman Joseph De Saram (music)

Rachel Portman (music)

Robert Pattinson as Georges Duroy

Uma Thurman as Madeleine Forestier

Kristin Scott Thomas as Virginie Rousset

Christina Ricci as Clotilde de Marelle

Our reviews below:

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Bel Ami DVD Review By John C.

*1/2 (out of 4)

Georges Duroy (Robert Pattinson) is a penniless ex-soldier in 1890s Paris, sleeping his way to the top with the wives of the wealthy men.  First up there’s the young and married Clotilde de Marelle (Christina Ricci), the middle aged Madeleine Forestier (Uma Thurman) who’s husband is dying, and the older Virginie Rousset (Kristen Scott Thomas).  His body sleeps where the money is, but sometimes he just can’t judge which one is the most financially sound companion to invite into his special “love nest.”

Although Bel Ami is carried by a fine cast led by Robert Pattinson, the editing is so poorly done that the simple story becomes confusing and feels disjointed, especially during the rushed final act.  The entire film is so over scored with an orchestra made up of strings that we keep waiting for something truly sinister to happen, when nothing actually does.  But the biggest offence of Bel Ami is that large portions of the film move at a glacial pace, making this a tedious and unfortunately melodramatic costume drama that fails to engage.

The DVD includes a “behind the scenes” featurette.

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Bel Ami DVD Review By Erin V.  

*1/2 (out of 4)

Based on the novel by Guy de Maupassant, Bel Ami takes place in 1890, and is about a man named Georges Duroy (Robert Pattinson), who rises from poverty to wealth by becoming a political writer, and sleeping around with the wealthy women of Paris.

While it may have been an interesting book (I haven’t personally read it), this is just a really boring film, from opening shot to closing.  The story is hard to follow – what little of it there seems to be – and while Pattinson as the lead is not inherently bad, he’s not the kind of actor who can save a bad movie from its terrible script.

What’s more, while I didn’t mind the score’s opening to the main theme on its own, the incessant strings overpowering this part of the score (by Lakshman Joseph de Saram, and Rachel Portman) sound like something out of a Zimmer Batman score rather than one for a quiet dramatic period piece – it just doesn’t fit.  Also there are more than a few shots here framed strangely with not much point to why they are framed that way, and the editing overall is a little all over the place and confusing.  Perhaps all this was done to match the style of the script.

Put simply, perhaps the short review of the film would be this:  Bel Ami might be an ok story to read, but the film is uninteresting, and in terms of filmmaking, not a very good effort.  Rent it if you want to watch anything that stars any of the actors – other than that, it can easily be skipped.

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Bel Ami DVD Review By Nicole

*1/2 (out of 4)

We’ve all seen Robert Pattinson as a kind, romantic vampire in Twilight.  In Bel Ami, he is a different kind of vampire, one who drains people of their money.  After Georges (Rob Pattinson), a poor ex-soldier, bangs the ugliest prostitute in 1890s Paris, he realizes that he can hook up with women who are pretty and, best of all, are loaded – or at least their husbands – with money.  He falls for married woman Madame de Morelle (Christina Ricci), marries rich widow Madeline Forestier (Uma Thurman) and sleeps with rich cougar Madame Walter (Kristin Scott Thomas).  The melodrama never ends in this turkey.

Robert Pattinson, Christina Ricci, Uma Thurman and Kristin Scott Thomas are all decent in Bel Ami.  However, they only have this lousy script to work with.  They work together well, bu they should have been in a better film.  Along with the horrible script and boring melodrama, the over scoring of Bel Ami is nothing more than the same driving tune played over and over.  If you are a fan of any of the actors and want to check out Bel Ami, then rent or borrow it from the library.

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Bel Ami DVD Review By Maureen

*1/2 (out of 4)

Set in turn of the century Paris and based on the classic novel by Guy de Maupassant, Bel Ami tells the story of former soldier Georges Duroy (Robert Pattinson) who makes his fortune by seducing and marrying wealthy women.  In true soap opera fashion, Georges jumps from bed to bed choosing women based on his financial strategy.  It’s always better to marry up than down.  Besides, what’s love got to do with it.

First there’s the already married Madame de Marelle (Christina Ricci) who Georges develops feelings for.  Then there’s the recently widowed and wealthy Madeline Forestier (Uma Thurman) who he marries and then divorces when the dollars don’t pan out.  In the meantime, married older woman Madame Walter (Kristen Scott Thomas) has taken a shine to Georges.  But Madame Walter’s not where the real money is.  Her beautiful daughter Suzanne (Holliday Grainger) is worth a lot more.  Guess who he needs to marry.

There’s so much going on in Bel Ami, yet at the same time, so little happening.  The story plays out so melodramatically that it becomes hard to follow this essentially boring movie.  However the lead actors, particularly Robert Pattinson can’t be faulted for the failure of Bel Ami to light up the screen.  All the actors involved give solid performances and on the plus side all look good in the period turn of the century Paris costumes.

Watch Bel Ami only if you are a die hard fan of any of the lead actors, particularly Robert Pattinson.  Even then, make sure you have a fresh pot of coffee and lots of snacks to keep you alert through what feels like an eternity, 102 minute running time.

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Bel Ami DVD Review By Tony

** (out of 4)

Bel Ami is the euphemistic nickname innocently given to Georges Duroy (Robert Pattinson) by the young daughter of Clotilde (Christina Ricci) who has him on retainer as a boy toy during her husband’s long absences. A poor veteran of colonial wars in North Africa, Georges was given a job and introduced to Belle Époque Paris society by Charles Forestier (Philip Glenister), a former buddy now working for a political opposition newspaper. When Charles dies messily of consumption, Georges enters into a marriage of convenience with his widow Madeleine (Uma Thurman in a plummy Joan Greenwood voice). Later he also finds himself at the horizontal service of Virginie (Kristin Scott Thomas), the wife of the newspaper’s publisher M. Rousset (Colm Meaney). However, Georges soon finds himself out of his league with the latter two women.

Based on a novel by Guy de Maupassant, Bel Ami suffers from a melodramatic script that does its fine cast no favours. Part of the problem may be the stage background of directing partners Declan Donellan and Nick Ormerod for whom this is the first feature film. At least in early 2010 when it was shot, Pattinson, Ricci, Thurman and Scott Thomas were turning 24, 30, 40, and 50 respectively, all appropriate ages for their characters. Moreover, the film looks good with Budapest standing in for Paris, but the pretentious lingering art house shots are often distracting and the overblown orchestral score is more appropriate for a dark thriller than a film where nothing much happens. Unless you are a fan of the story or cast or just curious, this is one ami you could easily live without.

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Consensus: Despite a fine cast led by Robert Pattinson, Bel Ami is an overly melodramatic period piece that feels long at 102 minutes and is constantly overscored by driving music that often doesn’t match what is on screen.  *1/2 (Out of 4)

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