Lets, for one brief moment imagine that you, fair reader, are Robert Pattinson (this may be a stretch of imagination but I have full faith in you). You are young, pretty attractive, insanely overpaid, and you’ve spent the last four or so years kissing Kristen Stewart‘s face, both on the big screen and off. That vampire movie series that made you famous (and seemed like a good idea when you were 20 and agreed to do it) is about to finish, and you need to find yourself something else to do. Something different. Something more adult. Something, hell, more hot-blooded.
So a script comes your way. It is an adaptation of a somewhat famously deviant and sexy Guy De Maupassant’s 1885 novel Bel Ami. It’s a tale of sex, social climbing, and intrigue that it has been already made into a movie (back in the 1940s, starring a suave George Sanders). There are also a few mini-series AND an “adult” adaptation (which, naturally, happened in the 1970s). You get to play the lead: a womanizing, conniving, well dressed man with a sharp wit and an even sharper tool in his pants. Of course you say, “Yes.” This is it. This is the movie to shatter your image.
As added incentive, all sorts of well respected, “grown-up” stars are in it. You get to be perceived as not only their equal, but in this case, as almost their puppet master. There is Uma Thurman (coming full circle from an ingenue in Dangerous Liaisons to a mature, powerful schemer here), Kristin Scott Thomas (who does the whole “fire under and icy surface” attitude like no other), Christina Ricci, Colm Meaney….
This is going to be SO.MUCH.FUN. Right? You, Robert Pattinson, think to yourself.
And, granted, it absolutely could have been, but you went and sort of ruined all the fun for everyone. Georges Duroy, the lead character, is the kind of coldblooded, forever scheming type that requires not just a good poker face, but also a knowing wink in their eye, the kind of sparkle that comes when YOU KNOW someone ALWAYS has something on their mind.
You have the poker face down to a point where it almost seems immobilized, but your acting chops (and possibly real-life experiences to draw from) are nowhere near what is needed for George’s games to seem believable.
More so, even with your handsome looks, it is hard to imagine that slew of beautiful, smart actresses are falling for you that hard and that foolishly. Sure, a 17 year old girl in Washington State doesn’t know any better, but a mature, experience lady in Paris, at the brink of Belle Epoque would.
It’s not all your fault, Robert. The movie itself contains so many twists, turns, and emotional slip-ups mixed in with real-world drama (including random tangents involving North African corruption) that the storyline could be served better if it was adapted into one of those BBC mini-series which we all love. It would have allowed the script to have a little room to breathe and characters to establish their motivations in more ways than just dramatic declarations of whatever their latest fickle flare of passion is.
As the trim 1 hour and 40 or so minutes drew to a close, you made me want to put “Dangerous Liaisons” and “Cruel Intentions” on my “must revisit” list. I need to remind myself how truly amazing a scary bedroom villain can be.