Monday, August 13, 2012

Bel Ami: Movie Review


Empty characters engaging in adulterous affairs to reveal nothing of significance.
“Bel Ami” follows Georges Duroy (Robert Pattinson) and his sexual travails with rich women. And that appears to be the entire story. The setting is the Belle Epoque, 19th century era of Paris. The women wear appalling makeup and monstrous hair-styles, the men are bland and indescribable, and the setting is supposed to mirror the lavishness of the rich and the squalor of the poor. 2012

Directed by: Declan Donnellan, and Nick Ormerod

Screenplay by: Rachel Bennette

Starring: Robert Pattinson

Robert Pattinson and Kristin Scott Thomas in BEL AMI,
a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.
The film is very skimp on dialogue and I couldn’t describe any of the characters even if I wanted to. Every introduction, or I’m assuming the scenes that were meant to be introductory, were set to a dramatic classical music score and all that was revealed was that our “hero” liked women, especially married women who verbally say no but physically say yes.

The music didn’t let up once throughout the entire film so essentially nothing else was revealed. It was a head-ache inducing, puzzling experience that boiled down to empty pointlessness.

“Bel Ami” is based on the novel of the same name by French author Guy de Maupassant in 1885. It’s quite possible that the novel held some significance in the time that it was written, but the question begs to be asked, why was it made into a film now? And why was it made into an American film? It stars American and British actors speaking English with French accents while in Paris. That doesn’t have to be a sticking point but if the film gives you nothing else to think about, it certainly causes some head-scratching.

A key ingredient in all dramas is conflict of some kind. Good versus evil, life versus death, or morality versus immorality, which I was expecting to find an abundance of in this film. But there was no conflict. The characters weren’t necessarily happy or sad, but like the film, they were just nothing.