Robert Pattinson’s upcoming movie Bel Ami might just be the best of the year. The British actor plays a Parisian who charms an American woman (played by an Oscar-nominated actress) into falling in love with him. Then he leaves her for another woman. Awkward!
The movie marks the beginning of a new chapter for Pattinson, whose previous effort, The Rover, underperformed at the box office. It wasn’t the first time the film came up short of projected earnings though, as it also underperformed in theaters internationally. It didn’t help that distributor Magnolia Pictures pushed it into theaters right after the Oscar-winning The Shape of Water; the film probably didn’t stand a chance against the popular Best Picture winner.
Nevertheless, the movie is a fascinating look at 1960s Paris, the women who worked there, and the way relationships worked back then. The performances across the board are exceptional, with Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard bringing her A-game as Alice, the second Mrs. Pattinson. It’s a testament to Pattinson’s versatility that he was able to pull off a role like this, especially as it was written by Nick Hornby.
What’s it about? Let’s dive into the details.
A Flawed But True Love Story
Although the movie is set in Paris in the late 1960s, the story takes place in the present day. Robert Pattinson’s character, Andre, lives in Paris and works in the fashion industry. He gets a call from an American woman named Alice (Marion Cotillard), who is in Paris for a business visit and wants to meet him for lunch. It’s obvious from the start that Andre isn’t interested in having a real relationship with Alice; all he wants is to charm her into falling in love with him. He uses his best pick-up lines (“We’re both adults here…”) and gets her to agree to have lunch with him. When she finally realizes what’s going on, she tries to end the relationship, but it’s already too late; Andre has charmed his way into Alice’s heart.
The story is obviously very different from what most people think about when they think about falling in love. Usually, the romantic comedy movie hero meets a girl, they have an awkward first date, and then slowly but surely begin to fall for each other. Not this time. Andre doesn’t see Alice as an equal; she’s just another girl who he can use to his advantage. From the start, he treats her like a trophy, wanting to impress her with his charms and intelligence. They never see eye to eye and have major fights during which Andre tries to prove his worth to her. Things only get worse when he discovers that she has a husband (Charlie Hunnam) living in Paris (the film was partially shot there). Suddenly, Alice isn’t the trophy anymore; she’s the enemy.
New Life in New York
After their fights become too much to bear, Andre and Alice decide to take a break and go their separate ways. Unfortunately, they both realize that they need each other and decide to start over in New York. While Andre looks for a job, Alice finds acting work, and their new romance is on the brink of flourishing. They make plans to meet up in New York after Andre finishes his stint in Paris. Little does he know that Alice has other plans. She’s not going to wait for him to come back to her; she’s going to go to New York and make her own life there. She packs up her things and leaves. Not exactly the most ideal way to start a new life, but for Alice, it’s the only way she knows how to be happy.
Back To Andre’s Parisian Ways
It’s not easy being a single parent in the 1970s. You have a husband, and then you also have a wife who you haven’t slept with in years and who now has your children more than she has her own. That’s what makes Andre’s night moves all the more frustrating. While he’s in New York, he gets a call from Alice’s son; his mom has taken ill and needs help. It’s not like their marriage was perfect, but in a way, Alice’s decision to stay in New York makes her feel like a bigger person. She’s not running away from her faults (she cheated on Andre once before their separation), but she’s running away from him. Now, at least she has her own son to look after; she doesn’t have to answer to Andre anymore.
Even though their relationship was never entirely perfect, Alice feels that Andre has grown from the experience and changed for the better. She decides to give it another go and returns to Paris. This time, she’ll make sure that they work things out. While Andre is overwhelmed by his success in New York and can’t understand why Alice would leave him for good, it’s clear that the separation has moved him to redouble his efforts. He begins to understand how much he needs her and promises her that things will be different this time. Just as they’re about to make up, an incident from their past comes back to haunt them.
That’s how the story ends. It’s a sad but true love story told through glitz and glamour. While the fashion industry in Paris may not seem like it would be that romantic, the clothes that Alice wears are stunning, and the film is well-deserved of all the attention it’s getting. Even Marion Cotillard has said that she’s never felt more beautiful in a film than she does in this one. Bel Ami is set for release on December 12, 2019. What did you think of it? Let us know what you thought in the comments below.