Welcome to A-Z Movie Reviews. Every Sunday, for the next several months, I will be posting a review of a film in my home movie collection. How it works is, I will be reviewing movies in alphabetical order until I get to the letter Z (Yes, I do have a film that ends in Z). Now I realize there are many ways to alphabetize a film collection but this is mine so don’t judge me. This is simply for fun.
Robert Pattinson is a very talented actor and I really think sometimes people underestimate him. I thoroughly enjoy the films he does and in my honest opinion he’s captivating to watch. He has so much range and his role as George Duroy in Bel Ami proves that.
What it’s about:
A morally bankrupt schemer (Pattinson) rises to the upper echelons of Parisian society by seducing a series of powerful and wealthy mistresses.
Bel Ami, the film based on the book by Guy de Maupassant is a lesson in the lengths we are willing to go to for power and wealth. George is a penniless soldier who goes to France with the dream of becoming successful.
George’s life sucks and he wants out. When he runs into Charles Forestier (Philip Glenister) an old friend he spent 3 years with during the war in Algeria, he is immediately focused on his wealth. To George, Charles is living the life.
George is invited to Charles’s home where he meets his wife Madeleine (Uma Thurman) and her friends Clotilde (Christina Ricci), and Virginie Rousset (Kristin Scott Thomas). Virginies husband is an editor for the french newspaper La Vie Française and because George is a former soldier, she thinks he would be a great asset. Monsieur Rousset (Colm Meaney) takes her advice and George is hired on to write a column titled ‘Diary of a Cavalry Officer’ in which he talks about the war.
The problem is, George can’t write for shit. He cannot even form a single thought of his own. Charles’s wife Madeleine (Thurman), offers to help and by help, I mean she actually tells him exactly what to write and he gets the credit for it. Madeleine is a crafty woman herself and she has some secrets of her own. One piece of advice she gives George is that the wives are more important than the men in Paris. George definitely takes her advice but for his own personal gain. This is clear when he starts hooking up with her friends.
George is an opportunist and a womanizer. When he gets fired from the newspaper after they learn he can’t actually write anything, he finds a way to get back in through Monsieur Rousset’s wife Virginie. Virginie is desperate for attention and George gives it to her. Somehow he worms his way back into the newspaper as of all things the head of gossip. From there, he makes his way with little effort I might add, to becoming the political editor.
George has no talent and he literally uses sex and manipulation to climb his way to the top. He goes through every one of Madeleines friends and I think the only one he may have actually really cared for was Clotilde (Ricci). She was with him from the start and didn’t care that he wasn’t rich. Even when he married Madeleine she still cared deeply for him.
Although George is doing a lot of scheming to gain fame and fortune, he is not the only one at fault. There are no innocents in this film.
The men working for the newspaper, are working to bring the government down and are secretly making a profit while doing so. The women are married and cheating on their husbands with George. Literally everyone is a liar and a cheat. People are double crossing each other at every turn all for the sake of notoriety.
George has his fair share of being double-crossed but he uses it to his advantage. Like I said, he’s an opportunist and he finds a way to turn things around for his benefit. People around him make the mistake of underestimating just how cunning he is. I won’t give too much more away though because you really should watch this film. It’s so entertaining and the cast is amazing. I highly recommend it.
- I love Robert Pattinson’s hands, totally random but I look at his hands in every movie.
- Madeleine tells George she won’t be anyone’s mistress but she’s cheating on her husband with someone else…
- Clotilde bought a love nest for her and George and he was sleeping with another woman in there. That’s high level cringe-worthy.
- Proposing to someone after their husband just died and the body is still in the room, yup that’s also cringey.
- Seducing someone in a Church, you guessed it. Cringey!
- George is lazy and that’s all there is to it. He wants wealth and prestige without doing anything honorable to get it.
Bel Ami is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.