Review: ‘Bel Ami’ (M) ? ? ?

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THE titles of foreign-language films of Guy de Maupassant’s novel imply that former army officer Georges seduced the wives of important men to scale the heights of social achievement in Paris in the 1890s.

Rachel Bennette’s screenplay for Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod’s filming uses three beautiful women of status to propel Georges upward in society, but I saw Clotilde (Christina Ricci), Madeleine (Uma Thurman) and Virginie (Kristen Scott Thomas) using him as a manipulable stud-muffin for soothing their erogenous zones after lunch while their husbands did man things like making money. These were wives whose sexuality was not demure, and rightly so.

The three actresses drive the film’s plot with skill and beauty. Madeleine’s husband (Phillip Glenister), who employs Georges to write for his paper, dies around the time Georges’s callow stupidity puts paid to his idyll with Clotilde, leaving him free to pursue and marry Madeleine (the political brain behind whatever copy Georges filed).

Virginie, married to press baron Rousset (Colm Meaney), chooses Georges for her first extra-marital fling only to see him marry her daughter. By then, the establishment has the muddle-headed Georges firmly in its grasp, leaving him wondering how it happened..

This right and proper fate for Georges neatly matches Robert Pattinson’s portrayal of him.

At Greater Union, Dendy and Hoyts Woden

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Dougal Macdonald
“CityNews” film reviewer

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