Movie Review: 'Bel Ami' -- 3 stars
Directed by Declan Donnellan, Nick Oremerod
Starring Robert Pattinson, Uma Thurman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Christina Ricci
The costume drama "Bel Ami," starring Robert Pattinson (of "Twilight" fame), offers familiar elements rendered with grand cinematic passion and ample intrigue. Intense feelings drive this adaptation of Guy de Maupassant's 1885 novel, which portrays a tortured social climber who's propelled by an unquenchable thirst for power and status.
Set in late 19th-century France, at the start of the heady Belle Époque, the film follows Georges Duroy (Pattinson), an ex-soldier of modest roots who uses his brooding good looks to seduce his way into high-
society Paris. His targets are lonely, married women -- chief among them Clotilde de Marelle (Christina Ricci) and Madeleine Forestier (Uma Thurman).
Co-directors Declan Donnellan and Nick Oremerod maintain the charged atmosphere of the era by embracing the melodrama full-on, enhancing it with expressionistic lighting and stark close-ups.
Pattinson is a major asset, carrying the production despite his limited range. The actor is a gifted, prolific on-screen brooder, and it's fun to watch him, even if he's essentially playing a sadder version of "Twilight" vampire Edward Cullen. He fits right into this material -- a blistering critique of a man who can't overcome his self-hatred.