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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Bel Ami is filled with negative messages about class, fortune, marriage, and sexual relationships. The over-arching theme is that people born into money take it for granted, and those who have to work for their pennies (or francs as the case may be) will stop at nothing to keep their riches.
Positive Role Models
The women in the movie come off far better than the men. Clotilde, although in an unhappy marriage, is a loving mother and selfless in her interactions with Georges. She truly loves him despite his many flaws. Madeleine is a progressive intellectual who believes in women's equality. As for the Rousset ladies, they're very naive and easily swayed by Georges' charm. And Georges himself is a scoundrel who chooses money over love and friendship.
Violence & Scariness
Georges gets into a fight at a brothel/gambling hall, and one man dies from consumption in a bloody manner.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
From the opening sequence, when Georges flirts with and eventually solicits a prostitute, Bel Ami is highly sexual. Nudity includes breasts, backs, butts, and basically everything except full-frontal genitalia shots. There are more than a half-dozen sex scenes, which range from semi-clothed romps to explicit depictions of lovemaking. Georges is a 19th-century gigolo and is depicted as irresistible to the wealthy women in Madeleine's social circle.
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One "f--k," plus insults like "whore," "idiot," and other derogatory terms.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Several characters smoke cigarettes (accurate for the era), and there's a lot of drinking at the brothel and at every social gathering.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Twilight star Robert Pattinson further distances himself from the relatively wholesome role of Edward in Bel Ami, a strongly sexual period drama about a social climber who charms and seduces several upper-class women to live a life of luxury. There are many passionate sex scenes, several of which involve nudity (breasts and buttocks are visible). Language includes one "f--k," as well as insults about a character's humble background. Violence is relatively mild, but there's one fist fight and one disturbing scene when a man bloodily succumbs to consumption. Bel Ami isn't a film with positive messages or role models, but it could provoke interesting conversations about class, power, and sex. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Robert Pattinson is uncompelling, which dooms the story, since it hinges on the fact he's a gigolo who's able to seduce pretty much any woman who enters his plane of vision. Pattinson had a phenomenal amount of success based solely on one movie role -- Edward Cullen in the Twilight saga. But it's obvious that his true interests lie in making much smaller, character-driven movies instead of popular commercial ones. That kind of dedication to the craft of acting should be applauded, but the problem is that, for all of his good looks and eccentric tastes in film roles, Pattinson isn't quite up to the task most of the time, and it's clearest in this adaptation.
Even surrounded by fantastic actresses (Thurman, Ricci, and Thomas all do their best with the material and look fabulous in their corseted finery) and meticulously crafted Parisian interiors, Pattinson falls flat as a man who's so charismatic and irresistible that women flock to him and are willing to commit adultery to be with him. As played by Pattinson, Georges lacks the magnetism and just seems like a petulant young man who alternately whines, schemes, and sleeps with women.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.