Bel Ami is a 2012 drama film starring Robert Pattinson, Uma Thurman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Christina Ricci and Colm Meaney. The film is directed by Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod and is based on the 1885 French novel of the same name by Guy de Maupassant.
The film had its world premiere out of competition at the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival on 17 February 2012, and was released theatrically on 8 June 2012 by Magnolia Pictures. The film was budgeted at €9 million.
Georges Duroy (Robert Pattinson) is a penniless former soldier making a living as an office clerk in 1880s Paris. At a club he meets an old friend, Charles Forestier (Philip Glenister), with whom he spent three years during the war in Algeria. The friend is well off and invites him to his home where he meets Mrs. Madeleine Forestier (Uma Thurman) and her friends Clotilde de Marelle (Christina Ricci) and Virginie Rousset (Kristin Scott Thomas). Mrs. Rousset's husband is an editor of the conservative newspaper La Vie Française and she helps him to get a job there, initially by publishing his diaries from the war in the paper. Gradually his social and financial standing improves, with Duroy using his wit and powers of seduction to charm wealthy women.Robert Pattinson as Georges Duroy
Uma Thurman as Madeleine Forestier
Kristin Scott Thomas as Virginie Rousset
Christina Ricci as Clotilde de Marelle
Colm Meaney as Monsieur Rousset
Philip Glenister as Charles Forestier
Holliday Grainger as Suzanne
Natalia Tena as Rachel the Prostitute
James Lance as François Laroche
Anthony Higgins as Comte de Vaudrec
Hagen Bogdanski directed the principal photography which began in early February 2010 in London and Budapest. Simon Fuller who helped fund the film also served as an executive producer.
The film stars Robert Pattinson as Georges Duroy (Pattinson describes Duroy as being "completely amoral"), Uma Thurman as Madeleine Forestier, Duroy's secret love interest, and later wife, Kristin Scott Thomas as Madame Rousset, whose lover Duroy becomes to further his interests, Christina Ricci as Clotilde de Marelle, who even though married genuinely loves Duroy, and Colm Meaney as Rousset.
Bel Ami earned $120,462 through a limited theatrical release by Magnolia Pictures at the United States box office. It was opened at 15 theatres on 8 June 2012 and by the end of its theatrical run on 27 June 2012 it was only playing at 2 theatres. It earned $8,182,799 internationally, thus earning a worldwide total of $8,303,261.
Bel Ami has received negative reviews from critics, where it currently holds a 28% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 88 reviews and an average rating of 4.9 out of 10 with the consensus stating: "Bel Ami contains some soapy pleasures but it overall rushes through the narrative and suffers from a vague central performance by Robert Pattinson."
Mick LaSalle in his review for San Francisco Chronicle said that "What distinguishes Pattinson in the role is the sense he conveys of someone roiling and churning beneath a surface that is almost, but not quite, calm."
However Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote: "The women are all elegant and intelligent, they know the ways of the world, and they know Georges' history. Why do they find him attractive? We don't, and that failure is the downfall of the film." He singled out Christina Ricci for her performance: "Her character makes the mistake of actually loving Georges. This involves pure acting skill on her part, since Pattinson gives her so little to work with."
Brent Simon of Shared Darkness criticized the film for being "A gassy, self-satisfied adaptation of the 1885 novel of the same name, threadbare Parisian period piece Bel Ami belies the erroneous notion that costume dramas automatically have a higher IQ than their contemporary dramatic brethren."