Even before the stars of Bel Ami left the red carpet at its Berlinale première, a slew of corrosive reviews about the film—and in particular, Robert Pattinson—hit the web. Some were brutal, even venomous, while others loved this revisit to Maupassant’s politically overtoned story about a twisted Casanova’s social ascent.
Jennie Kermode, at Eye for Film, praising Pattinson’s performance, wrote, “He certainly doesn’t disappoint but largely because he knows how to play an unlikeable character.” Reasoning that, “because Pattinson isn’t afraid to play weakness, mediocrity or petty spite, he is perfect in the role,” Kermode affirmed Pattinson’s “ability to keep the audience interested in his [character’s] fate,” as illustrating “real talent.”
Kermode, an insightful critic, is right. It also says something about Pattinson that he chose a role like Georges Duroy, a character whose capacity for exploitation is about as far from the self-sacrificing Edward Cullen as you can get. Brave enough not to want to stay safely within the genre that propelled him to uber fame, it’s clear from recent comments made by Pattinson, that here is an actor chomping at the bit to explore new challenges—no matter how much incentive Lionsgate and Summit dangle.
Love this part:
A sumptuous romp through belle époque Paris, undeniably the film delivers a rich visual hit to the senses. Pulsing with sensuality, it revels in exposing the corruption at the core of its anti-hero, and those around him. Where it doesn’t work, is in its—at times—serrated joins between scenes and reductive screenplay. But gosh, it’s fun. Unashamed, balls-out, sexy, fun.
As for the Pattinson-bashing; for this maturing actor, he might find it worthwhile remembering his own words about his younger self: “If someone insulted me, I would get ten years of ambition out of it.” Those numbers may have grown. But so has Robert Pattinson.