Bel Ami

Based on Guy de Maupassant’s classic novel, something I would never be able to read (at least the original French version), this tale is about temptation and obsession. The music by Lakshman Joseph de Saranu and Rachel Portman is simply glorious, with the cello, piano and vocals featured prominently alongside orchestral and other lively music.

The story takes place in Paris in 1890. The opening scene sees Georges Duroy (Robert Patterson), a penniless clerk in the railway office, at a tavern with rowdy characters. It is also where he meets Charles Forestier (Philip Grainger), a former comrade in the Army, who has ‘connections’ with the well-to-do.

At the home of Forestier, Duroy meets his wife Madeleine (Uma Thurman), and their wealthy and influential friends Madame Clotilde de Marelle (Christina Ricci) and Madame Virginie Rousset (Kristin Scott Thomas).

Upon Charles Forestier’s death, Duroy marries Madeleine. Due to his insatiable quest and lustful greed, Duroy also seduces Clothide and Virginie. The married Clotilde even keeps a separate apartment for her rendezvous with Duroy, to which he also brings Virginie.

Duroy is to discover that every of his conquest is marred by betrayal and that true love eludes him. Yet he does not give up and will not be stopped. He divorces Madeleine and goes on to marry Virginie’s young daughter who comes with 3 million francs.

Is Duroy just another selfish, brutal man? It is not enough to be loved; he must be king. Is he a bad person, with no repentence? The women all see something in him which he didn’t see himself and they want to acknowledge his admiration but the question is: is Duroy capable of love? Or is he driven only by greed and lust?

Mostly shot in Hungary, Budapest, the film boasts of wonderful photography and visual effects. Kudos must also go to the designers from the various departments: art, costume, sets, hair, make-up, props etc.

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