‘Bel Ami,’ reviewed by Marshall Fine


I’m not sure why, but no one has been willing or able to speak truth to box-office power, so let me try:

Robert Pattinson is a terrible actor.

Oh, he’s pretty enough, with his sleepy eyes and pouty lips. Let him play a vampire in the “Twilight” series and he’s fine, for two reasons:

1) He’s doing a James Dean impression.

2) He’s sharing most of his scenes with Kristen Stewart, who has such a vital screen presence that he benefits from reflected glory.

But put him at the center of an actual movie – as opposed to something presold and predigested like the “Twilight” films – and he’s revealed as an empty pretty boy, a black hole of talent.

If you don’t believe that, go back and look at “Little Ashes,” where he was embarrassing as a young Salvador Dali; or “Remember Me,” a forgettable 9/11 romance; or “Water for Elephants,” in which he was chewed to pieces by a scenery-gobbling Christoph Waltz (and the elephants themselves).

Or watch him in the new “Bel Ami,” which opened in limited release 6/8/12, in which he alternately smirks and pouts as a Belle Epoque social-climber. Adapted from a novel by Guy de Maupassant by a pair of directors – Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod – “Bel Ami” follows Pattinson’s character, Georges Duroy, as he clambers from a roach-infested garret to the poshest chambers in 1890 Paris.

This review continues on my website.

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