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Does Robert Pattinson’s “Bel Ami” Suck?

May 10, 2012

Kristen Stewart seems poised for her first non-Twilight hit with Snow White and the Huntsman, but Robert Pattinson’s having a harder time staking his own claim at the box office. Remember Me and Water for Elephants were both instantly forgettable, and now his latest film, Bel Ami, has gone direct to VOD ahead of its token theatrical release next month.

In this stodgy adaptation of Guy de Maupassant’s novel, Pattinson plays an entirely different kind of bloodsucker—an ex-soldier who refashions himself as a journalist and climbs the ranks of 1890’s Parisian society through a series of affairs with powerful married women. The London-born actor looks sweaty and uncomfortable in the role; you keep waiting for him to replenish his energy by sinking his teeth into the necks of one of his mistresses, but his performance—and the movie—is ultimately toothless.

As his paramours, Uma Thurman, Christina Ricci and Kristin Scott-Thomas each flail in their own ways. Thurman adopts the same phony English accent she used in The Avengers, Ricci proves just as ill-suited to a 19th century period piece as she was to the 20th century flop Pan Am, and Scott Thomas seems like she’d rather be doing one of those French-language films she’s become so enamored of in recent years. Meanwhile, Colm Meany does a lazy variation on the mustache-twirling villain he plays on AMC’s Hell on Wheels as a powerful newspaper publisher with ulterior motives for giving Pattinson’s character a platform.

Perhaps Pattinson’s next film, Cosmopolis (which casts him as a contemporary Manhattan billionaire), will break his bad-luck streak. It’ll soon debut at the Cannes Film Festival, but director David Cronenberg hasn’t had a box-office smash since the ’80s, so it’s unlikely to be more than a success d’estime. Still, that’d be a big step up from Bel Ami. And with the final chapter of the Twilight franchise set for release in November, Pattinson will be free to pursue more potentially lucrative endeavors. Are there any superheroes Marvel hasn’t cast yet? Paging Dr. Strange!

Is Robert Pattinson already in the Twilight of his career? Post a comment!

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