Robert Pattinson Plays a Familiar Role in "Bel Ami"

By Matt Prigge
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 19 | Posted Jun. 5, 2012

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Uma Thurman and Robert Pattinson in "Bel Ami."

Grade: C

In Bel Ami, Robert Pattinson plays a familiar role: a blank-faced creep able to seduce his way to the top thanks to his looks and his willingness to coast on little but said looks. Technically, he plays Georges Duroy, the amoral social climber at the center of Guy De Maupassant’s second novel, a soldier who returns to 1890 Paris from Algeria ready to glad-hand the powerful while banging their wives. As he penetrates a well-off newspaper, he does the same to Christina Ricci, Uma Thurman and Kristin Scott Thomas—a task that, rather than at least leaving a semi-permanent grin, produces from the Twilight kid only the occasional dickish smirk.

Word has it that, with his Cannes player Cosmopolis, David Cronenberg proved the one to finally do something interesting with Pattinson. That makes sense: The actor needs a mega-stylist to mold him like clay, which, with his ability to rock no more than three expressions, he basically is anyway. Pattinson clearly wants to be more than his goofy good looks—his flattened nose, his far-apart eyes, his aggressively pale complexion—but doesn’t have the chops, as witness his grotesque “impersonation” of Salvador Dalí in Little Ashes. This visible need to transcend himself makes him a dull boy, humor-impaired, funny only when he’s trying to act.

While he has the looks for Duroy, he lacks the screen presence, the requisite roguish qualities that would make Bel Ami more than a bundle of plot. Filmmakers Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod bet on this being a Barry Lyndon situation, in which Stanley Kubrick was able to exploit Ryan O’Neal’s powerful limitations for his own sly devices. But Lyndon revealed subtle depth—since untapped—in O’Neal’s screen presence, while Bel Ami merely has Pattinson act like a disused robot while his female co-stars (plus Colm Meaney) chatterbox around him. As his fuck buddies, Ricci, Scott Thomas and even Thurman provide more than deserved; the latter, who never feels home in a period piece, is quite promisingly comfortable here. But they’re propping up both a vacuous actor and a romp that, instead of relishing in its anti-hero’s fiendishly anti-heroic deeds, instead becomes as joyless as its star.

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Comments 1 - 19 of 19
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1. ruthie said... on Jun 5, 2012 at 04:17PM

“Did you see the same movie as me??? I liked the film. All the characters. Very near the book. Did you read the book??? While not a great film it is entertaining and Pattinson is moving up the ranks. He is more than Edward Cullen.”

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2. me said... on Jun 5, 2012 at 04:32PM

“you have just revealed yourself as one of the pattinson haters. Don't be jealous. Maybe someday you'll be able to write a REAL revue about someones acting ability. Until then ....keep your snide opinions to yourself!!!”

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3. Ellenj55 said... on Jun 5, 2012 at 05:13PM

“If this is a review it's news to me. Sounds more like RPatz hater. I'm a grandmother and a fan of his. Vulgar language in a review is so low class. I guess you didn't write a review, you wrote a hate letter. I saw Bel Ami on VOD. LOVED it. I read the book 1st so I would know what to expect. This was exactly played by Rob the way it should have been. I give 4 stars. As for you, you are pathetic at reviews. Get another job. You aware not an impartial reviewer. Shame on you.”

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4. Ellenj55 said... on Jun 5, 2012 at 05:19PM

“Hey PWeekly. Fire this guy. He's a hateful person, who does not know how to review. Are you that disparate , you have to have a no talent writer like this on your payroll. I'm jumping your ship. Bye bye!”

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5. Dee said... on Jun 5, 2012 at 06:22PM

“Totally disagree. Not convinced you understand the role of a critic. Don't think you hate the movie so much as you hate Rob.”

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6. chips said... on Jun 5, 2012 at 06:36PM

“Neither intelligent nor interesting article Mr. Prigge. Your talents would be better suited for grocery store tabloids. Obviously I will watch both movies.”

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7. Beckoww said... on Jun 5, 2012 at 09:56PM

“Rob Pattinson hater, I agree. Very well acted movie. Jealous much there critic? So sorry you don't know when to give credit when it's deserved.”

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8. decogal said... on Jun 5, 2012 at 10:33PM

“sounds like one of these pseudo writers that likes to read their own words with a large touch of jealousy thrown in. Thought I would give this reviewer another try. Nope - no talent here!”

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9. irate reader said... on Jun 6, 2012 at 12:21AM

“REALLY??? This is a hate-fuelled review from a joyless man. Aren't you supposed to be reviewing the movie or the actors' abilities and not the shape of an actor's nose or coloring? Didn't your mother teach you not to make personal comments? The character is supposed to be a dick, hence the appropriate smirk. What is wrong with you? You are completely unprofessional and should be fired.”

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10. Anonymous said... on Jun 6, 2012 at 12:38AM

“Wow, for a second I thought this was a critique about Kristen Stewart. Careful Matt Prigge, your jealousy and bias are showing.”

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11. jspattzfan said... on Jun 6, 2012 at 06:08AM

“Let me join the chorus of folks above who feel that you've written a bitter review. You are entitled to not like the film, but no need to bash Mr Pattinson so badly. Check out Little Ashes again. He has some good moments in that. Are you one of those people who resent the fact that he struck gold with the Twilight franchise and didn't deserve it? Every director he's worked with has spoken highly of his work as well as many of his co-stars. They obviously see something that you don't. Take a deep breath and stick to reviewing movies you like and can be a little more objective about.”

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12. Sierra said... on Jun 6, 2012 at 08:29AM

“Mr. Prigge is it? I'm not sure how you got a job as a journalist or a film critic. But maybe you should consider a job change since you are definetly not qualified to critique this film. You seem to hate Robert Pattinson. I'm sure your opinion does not matter in the least to anyone.Mr. Pattinson could buy and sell you. He is one of the most popular actors in Hollywood. I read somewhere that there was a "journalist" that used to write bad reviews about James Dean back in the day. One day, Karma bit him in the ass when his job required him to interview Mr. Dean. Mr. Dean refused the interview, but granted it to all the other journalist that requested one. The old saying, "becareful whose toes you step on today, as they may be connected to the ass you have to kiss tomorrow" applies to you. Maybe a job change for you should be in order. McDonalds is always hiring.”

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13. Sparky said... on Jun 6, 2012 at 09:21AM

“Seriously!!! You have the nerve to belittle Mr. Pattinson's performance in Bel Ami? You are a serious hater, not a journalist. Well it seems your writing skills are being belittled by the PW readers. PW should fire you as you seem to be unable to seperate your jealousy of Mr. Pattinson to his wonderul acting skills. Who the hell put you on the payroll? They should be fired as well. A word of advise, in the future before you decide to write about about a movie, put the jealousy in the closet and put the cap back on your whiskey bottle.”

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14. Anonymous said... on Jun 6, 2012 at 10:02AM

“Really??? Nothing here to indicate you even read the book by du Maupassant or understand the story. Pattinson plays Duroy as the unfeeling, ambitious jerk he's supposed to be. It's become a ciritc's sport to ridicule Pattinson for Twilight - movies with bad scripts and FX (although Condon's version is better). He's a young actor (having been in a handful of films) whose trying to evolve....sheesh! Give the kid a break for trying! Maybe you've become too jaded for this work - it happens. Ridicule the film's merits, but you don't need to get personal.”

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15. gracie said... on Jun 6, 2012 at 10:15AM

“Everyone is entitled to an opinion, and I would never expect one to like something just because I did. Having said that, however, I am really disappointed with the tone of your review. Surely, you were taught to do better work in journalism school. I do think Pattinson has potential that is still untapped. It is essential that he find the right vehicle and director. He does seem to have staying power and a very enthusiastic fan base.”

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16. Linnie said... on Jun 6, 2012 at 01:34PM

“Seriously. Initially, I just read the grade the movie received, then read the comments and skipped the review. Within seconds I was wondering wtf, so read Matt Prigge's piece. Not being from the Philadelphia area, is the Philadelphia Weekly one of those papers that get rolled up and rubber-banded to your front porch hand railing? Where is the professionalism? Their budget must've been slashed and they picked up some dude who probably last wrote stories in high school. He appears to be one of those men who don't understand why their girlfriends and wives find Robert Pattinson to be so appealing. All this guy has to do is look in the mirror and if his attitude matches his writing style, he'll have his answer.”

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17. Anonymous said... on Jun 6, 2012 at 04:29PM

“I agree, I must have seen a completely different film! I enjoyed the film and thought the Duroy character developed from a naive soldier to a worldly wise user who knew how to get himself on to avoid returning to poverty, but hey I'm no film critic. It inspired me to read the book afterwards. Maybe it won't be nominated for an Oscar but was a good story and believably acted in my humble opinion.”

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18. Jalayne said... on Jan 3, 2013 at 10:38AM

“I believe Pattinson did an excellent job with this character. Ricci was flawless.
Although Uma played her role well, she was only beautiful for the first scene. After that, it looked as though they aged her.
Overall, it was an interesting film.
I will not attack this "critic", as I have no desire to put myself on his level.”

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19. LJones said... on Oct 22, 2014 at 12:15PM

“Robert Pattison is a good actor, but I felt he was too young or immature for the role. He simply lacked the maturity to portray such a role with any real subtlety. And his looks are wrong for the part.

Otherwise, this is a decent film.


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