First Hit: The idea of the film is good but with Pattinson as the lead it goes nowhere.
This story is supposed to be about a man’s rise to power through his guile and the women he beds. Or is it?
The film begins with watching Georges Duroy (played by Robert Pattinson) taking his last few bits of money off a table going to a bar to spend it on beer while he watches his favorite whore goes off with someone with money.
He runs into his old north African army buddy Charles Forestier (played by Philip Glenister) who buys him some champagne and invites him over for a party while loaning him money for clothes. At the party he meets Charles’ wife Madeleine (played by Uma Thurman) to whom he is immediately attracted. He also meets Clotilde (played by Christina Ricci) a young beautiful woman with a child.
The setup is that he thinks he is a ladies man or player (as they would say today). The problem is that there isn’t anything about his character that is attractive or interesting. Charles gets him a job at Rousset Walters’ (played by Colm Meaney) newspaper.
Here he does nothing, adds no value, and uses stories developed and written by Madeleine. He is a caricature of someone who brings value to the table. He meets Rousseau’s wife Virginie (played by Kristen Scott Thomas) and the script has her attracted to him.
I don’t see how Clotilde, Madeleine or Virginie found Georges attractive except that is what the script said for them to be. He brings nothing to his character except some facial good looks (somewhat pained) but his body is mediocre and his eyes are absolutely vacant.
Pattinson is not much of an actor and his vacant eyes might be great for the role of a vampire but if he’s going to do anything else, he’s got to learn to bring something from his soul out through his eyes and to the audience. Glenister is good as the former army mate and someone who wanted to give Georges a chance. Thurman elevates herself from the rest and takes charge of her role. Ricci was great as the woman who cares regardless of how she is treated. Meaney is good as the tough newspaper editor who is also looking out only for himself. Scott Thomas is interesting as a woman who is rather cold and distant to needy and wanting. Rachel Bennette wrote an interesting screenplay. Directors Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod had a good script and some great actors except for Pattinson in the lead role.
Overall: The film had possibilities but with Pattinson in the lead it was dead on arrival.