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Based on the 1885 novel by Guy de Maupassant, Bel Ami tells the story of Georges Duroy, a young man on the make in Paris during the belle époque.

A chance encounter with an old acquaintance leads Duroy, of peasant stock, to a plum role as a journalist with political rag La Vie Francaise. The trouble is, Duroy cannot write to save his life, and so must instead rely on his charms to seduce the wives of the newspaper men and thus remain in the game.

Bel Ami‘s cast is impressive on paper, but they are largely wasted in this clumsy adaptation. Uma Thurman and Christina Ricci are the best of the group, but Robert Pattinson is testament to the fact that well-defined cheekbones do not a decent actor make. He is self-conscious and unconvincing in the role of manipulative lothario, not to mention completely at odds with the period material.

This could have been a Dangerous Liaisons for 2012; it is instead an exercise in miscasting and accidental hilarity. (KSo) **