If you thought that Robert Pattinson, the actor-turned-film-director, was returning to his romantic comedy roots with the new movie, Bel Ami, you’d be mistaken. The Twilight star’s latest is a dark criminal tale that feels more like a TV series than a film, and which features not one, but two romantic leads.
Set in Paris in 1899, the film follows two criminals (Pattinson and Vincent Cassel) on a heist mission, as they attempt to steal a priceless diamond. The twist is that they’ve got to keep their romantic partners in the dark about their plan — they can’t tell their women workers that they’re going to commit a crime, or they’ll blow the whole thing. The result is a tense cat and mouse game that spans several cities as the criminals try to keep their plans a secret and evade capture.
The similarities to Get Out, the horror movie that debuted this year to critical acclaim, are certainly there. Both Get Out and Bel Ami are incredibly noir in flavor, and feature stellar performances from leading men. Get Out even manages to evoke a bit of the spirit of The Godfather, as its narrative revolves around crime and punishment. So, can we really say that Bel Ami is a complete break from Patton’s previous work?
Pattinson’s Return To Romantic Comedy
The first Twilight movie, Breaking Dawn, featured a rather unconventional love story between werewolf Edward Cullen (Pattinson) and human girl Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart). The couple’s courtship was a happy one, despite the fact that Edward was actually in love with his best friend, Jacob (Taylor Latham). It wasn’t until New Moon that we got a true romantic comedy, as Bella and Edward’s first date was literally a movie: an old-fashioned, live-action Bread-themed prom. That scene would soon become one of the actor’s best-known and most-loved cameos, as he recreated it in Breaking Dawn – Part 2.
One thing that Twilight fans will remember is that Edward was (mostly) a doting husband to Bella. The romance between the two main characters was the focal point of each movie, and their marriage was (at least on the surface) the story’s most important subplot. Even in Breaking Dawn – Part 2, in which Edward and Bella’s relationship wasn’t perfect, their chemistry still managed to shine through. It was refreshing to see a Hollywood romance where the focus wasn’t completely on the characters’ sex life. For the first time in a long time, I wanted to see Twilight for the story it had to tell, not just the sex scenes. It truly was a beautiful and unique saga.
Unfortunately, after the incredible success of The Twilight Saga, movie fans may have expected more from the actor. He’s quickly become one of Hollywood’s most in-demand leading men, with his filmography boasting everything from Penny Dreadfuls to Killing Valentine (a thriller about a man who sets out to murder all of his ex-girlfriends). So it was certainly a surprise when, in April this year, Pattinson decided to make a comedic comeback with the release of The Loves of Ondine. The film, which he also wrote, directed, and produced, features an A-list cast, including Lady Gaga, Melanie Laurent, and Marion Cotillard — and although it was a beautiful romance, it was a very different kind of story to what we’d come to expect from the actor. He plays a charming and doting husband, whose wife is seemingly perfect but actually hides a dark secret. He must solve a series of magical mysteries to reveal the truth about her hidden past.
With Ondine, we were back to square one: once again, we weren’t sure what kind of movie we were going to get. Was it going to be romantic comedy, or was it going to be noir? It turns out that Ondine is a bit of both. Pattinson’s GQ columnist wife, Lydia, described the movie as a mix of dark comedy and romance — and that’s exactly what it is. As with Twilight, the movie features some incredible scenery and gorgeous costumes, but it’s also got the same noir sensibility that made Get Out so unique. The plot drives towards a rather surprising revelation, and it keeps the audience guessing till the end. The result is a breath of fresh air for fans of Twilight, and a new challenge for the actor.
The Perfect Couple
Pattinson isn’t the only A-list celebrity making a comedic comeback this year. In a similar fashion to the actor, Ricky Gervais (creator of The Office) is also on a comedy spree, having just wrapped production on Life’s Too Short, a romantic comedy about an aging bachelor who decides to find love once and for all. Gervais plays the part of Frank, a foul-mouthed, beer-guzzling, misogynistic man who, after a long day of work, hangs out with his friends, gets drunk, and brags about his many conquests. Despite his vile behavior, the friends decide that they like Frank, and set out to prove it to the world. It’s a story that sounds a little bit like Meet the Fockers, but it’s very much its own animal.
The year 2018 has seen some incredible cinematic romances, thanks in large part to the fact that Hollywood now realizes that its audience enjoys a good love story as much as, or more than, a series of adventure-packed adventures. We’ve seen blockbuster movies, like Beautiful Girls and The Greatest Showman, and independent efforts, like The House of Gucci and Once Upon a Time in Venice, showcase gorgeous leading men and women who have the hots for each other. The future of cinema looks exceptionally bright, as 2019 beckons, bringing with it more heart-melting stories, more iconic cameos, and, of course, more romances. The perfect partner for this upcoming year of cinematic romances would be… Robert Pattinson.