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Film Review - Bel Ami
by Mary Nyiri

Directors: Declan Donnellan, Nick Ormerod Great Britain

French soldier Georges Duroy (Robert Pattinson) returns to Paris from Algeria in the 1890s. Originally from the country and broke, a chance meeting with Charles Forestier (Philip Glenister), an old acquaintance he knew in Algeria, results in an invitation to dinner. Charles boasts he is political editor at La Vie Française. At the grand Forestier home, Georges realizes this fine society presents an opportunity to creep out of poverty. Handsome and cocksure Georges charms Charles’ wife Madeleine (Uma Thurman) who suggests that Georges publish his diary as a soldier. Georges readily agrees. The diary is a hit, winning Georges a job at the newspaper from the editor, Rousset (Colm Meaney). In actuality, Madeleine writes the column for Georges. Unwilling to be seduced, she suggests that Georges calls on two of her wealthy, married lady friends since the wives are the most important people in Paris. Georges gladly follows her advice and easily seduces Clotilde (Christina Ricci) who sets him up in a luxurious apartment. Clotilde ends their affair, however, after discovering he frequents a lusty prostitute. Determined not to be poor again, the ruthless Georges uses his sexual prowess in his cunning seduction of the widowed Madeleine, whom he marries (then divorces for adultery), followed by his heartless liaison with Madame Rousset (Kristin Scott Thomas). Finally, Georges finds revenge and wealth by running off with the Rousset’s teenage daughter. The humiliated Roussets insist Georges marries the young heiress Suzanne (Holliday Grainger) to save her reputation.

Sumptuous sets, beautiful costumes, lovely actors all come sensuously together in this entertaining film based on the 1885 novel Bel Ami by Guy de Maupassant under the direction of Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod. Vive le ménage à cinq!