Bold moves by Georges Duroy (Robert Pattinson) as a rogue yearning to satisfy his desires through seduction. But, herein lies the rub, his allure which he uses as a lure is very tempting and the women he pursues do little to repel his advances.
Pattinson's as Duroy lets his rage and temper fill the screen, and he is a boy/man who acts first and then repents bitterly at leisure. But despite his outrageous setbacks, our Bel Ami - where others toy with the government and play politics, he uses his guile and sexual politics to the max.
The women - actresses, Uma Thurman, Kristin Scott Thomas and Christina Ricci display their wealth, position and charm to hold his attention, but that is not enough and he's not having any of it. Unless the personal and material gains outweigh the risks, he (Pattinson) takes more chances, for he has a taste for ultimate gains and insults coupled with vengeance.
Duroy takes on the heavyweights in Parisian society and we see him fall from grace time and time again, to his peril and detriment. His petulant, immature forays into hitting out at the many who give to him, but also stand in his way leave gasps in his wake.
He learns the art of perceived results in a final personal triumph.
Even among the hysterics and what some see as doomed heroics, he refuses to cede to failure of his desires. It's not in his nature.
When he started into his seductive forays, he knew few rules, set up his own and then proceeded to break society's and his meagre few.
Pattinson steals scenes even in the vapour of defeat.
The female characters hold their own solidly, but are still ready to fall into his web.
He schemes, beds and uses his body more than his mind on may occasions, he never seems to tire of the sexual act. But, his ruse is only ever overturned by his wife (Thurman). She tries to placate and distance him with rough trade and speed which much to his and our surprise looks profoundly painful.
Being cast aside - like he manages to do to others - hurtfully - he looks genuinely shocked. How dare she try to even the score.
But then, he always seeks a quick exit from tumultuous situations.
I watched with fascination, as Pattinson unfolded his many sided character throughout the film. The dangerous and open threats he set up for himself and his fellow conspirators are gasp inducing, but memorable.
I cannot wait to read Guy de Maupassant's classic, however, I'm glad I saw the film first.
Recommended - if you like a battle of egos and actors who can hold their own against fierce competition.