Bel Ami (15)
Dirs: Declan Donnellan, Nick Ormerod
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With: Robert Pattinson, Christina Ricci
Running time: 102 minutes
THEATRE luminaries Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod make their feature film debut with this, no surprise, rather theatrical adaptation of the Guy de Maupassant novel.
The major selling points are the stars, especially Twilight's Robert Pattinson acting moodily in period costume as Georges Duroy, a poor boy making his ambitious way with the ladies of fin-de-siecle Paris. Christina Ricci, Uma Thurman and Kristen Scott Thomas are among the madames in question.
Scott Thomas is the best of the gang, with her character Virginie given to much swooning and faffing in the marsh. Though the film creaks badly at times and succumbs to staginess at the drop of a lace hanky, everything at least looks the part.
Dir: Michael Winterbottom
With: Freida Pinto, Riz Ahmed
Running time: 113 minutes
BRITISH director Michael Winterbottom transports Tess of the d'Urbervilles through space and time to modern India in a gorgeously shot but uneven adaptation of Hardy's tale.
Trishna (Freida Pinto) is a poor girl from a remote village who meets Jay (Riz Ahmed), the spoiled, Londoner son of a rich hotelier. Trishna resists his advances initially but soon finds herself yearning for a world beyond the one she knows. Winterbottom sets up the story convincingly then loses his characters, and the audience, in a middle section that wanders around so much the ending, when it finally comes, is rushed and unsatisfying.
The settings are uniformly magnificent, though and Ahmed, once again, shows himself to be a star in the making.