‘Bel Ami’ is a 2004 French drama film directed by Michael Haneke. It tells the story of a group of wealthy Parisian men who organise various scams in order to ensnare unsuspecting women.’Bel Ami’ is the 19th film by Austrian director Michael Haneke. The screenplay was written by Haneke and his frequent collaborator, Ulrich Köhler (based on a short story by Guy de Maupassant).

Here are 6 facts you need to know about ‘Bel Ami’:

1. Production

‘Bel Ami’ was shot in the winter of 2003 in Paris and on location in the French countryside. The film was made with a budget of €12million (£10m/$14.5m). The majority of this budget went to paying the lead actors, with €2.5million (£2m/$3.25m) spent on costumes, €1.85million (£1.5m/$2.25m) spent on sets, and €600,000 (£500k/$750k) spent on location. A further €500,000 (£450k/$650k) was spent on special effects and editing.

2. Cast

The film stars French superstar Carole Bouquet as Alice, a wealthy, independent divorcee who is the centrepiece of a scheme orchestrated by a group of scheming Parisian gentlemen (the “Bel Ami” club). Other main cast members include Gérard Depardieu, Jean Dujardin, Emmanuelle Béart, Édouard Dermit, and the late Jean-Louis Trintignant.

Although he did not appear in the film, Christian Bale was originally offered the role of Charlie, but turned it down. (He had recently acted in Michael Haneke’s ‘The Thin Red Line’.)

3. Historical Accuracy

The real life counterparts of several characters in ‘Bel Ami’ did indeed live during the Belle Époque era. The “Bel Ami” club itself was modelled after the real life Bar du Soleil, which was founded in 1898 and is one of the oldest gentlemen’s clubs in Paris. Several of the film’s events and situations are loosely based on actual events that occurred during that time period. Some of the events in the film were inspired by true stories, such as the bombing of the cafe Maxim’s, which was inspired by the 1914 destruction of the Grand Cafe.

4. Theme

‘Bel Ami’ is, at its center, a story about greed and the allure of money. The film’s main protagonists, the members of the “Bel Ami” club, are all essentially products of the Great War. Many of them had lost family members in the conflict, and some had even made unsuccessful attempts to assassinate Kaiser Wilhelm II, who had been responsible for the deaths of their relatives. (In one of the film’s most memorable scenes, the Kaiser is shown in a flashback, lamenting over the death of his nephew and heir Wilhelm Jr., whom he had tried to save by sending reinforcements to France during the battle of the Marne in 1914.) The film’s story is told through the prism of class conflict and the struggle for economic ascendancy between the upper classes and the working class in Paris during the post-war period. The film’s narrative follows the scheming and often duplicitous behavior of Parisian men who aspire to better themselves through wealth and status, even if it means depriving other individuals, or groups of individuals, of these same qualities.

5. Language

The characters in ‘Bel Ami’ are shown to be both extremely articulate and highly fluent in French. The dialogue is written in French and, according to IMDb, the French dubbing was so good that some English-speaking viewers may have been unable to follow the movie’s storyline without first learning a few phrases in French. (However, most likely no one will notice or care about this because French is not generally encountered by most people in real life anymore, with the exception of academic or political circles.)

6. Rating

‘Bel Ami’ is rated R16(SR) in Malaysia, and contains extreme scenes of graphic sex and violence throughout. It has also been rated R in Brazil and Mexico, and has yet to be rated in France or the United States. The film does not receive an M rating because it includes elements of what is considered ‘adult content’, such as graphic depictions of drug use and sexuality. It should be noted that the film does not contain any’super-slasher’ scenes or murders. The scenes of violence are portrayed in a graphic but realistic manner, and the bloodshed is shown to be caused by the men’s own greed and treachery, and not by supernatural forces or maniacal serial killers. This makes the film seem more like a realistic depiction of the time period and the character of the men who were privileged and powerful enough to indulge in such behavior, but not quite powerful enough to stop themselves from indulging when it suited their purposes, than a typical horror film.

‘Bel Ami’ is the 19th film by Austrian director Michael Haneke. The screenplay was written by Haneke and his frequent collaborator, Ulrich Köhler (based on a short story by Guy de Maupassant).