Dashing Georges Duroy (Pattinson), a poor ex-soldier from a rural background, enters the alien world of Parisian society under the wing of old friend Charles Forestier (Glenister). When Forestier secures him an introduction to society he soon makes the acquaintance of its ladies, including Madeleine Forestier (Thurman), Virginie Walters (Scott Thomas) and Clotilde De Marelle (Ricci). Amorousness swiftly ensues.
Robert Pattinson very much looks the part for Guy De Maupassant’s anti-morality tale, but his suitability ends there. The 1885 novel follows Georges Duroy, a young man endowed with beautiful features and ruthless cunning who uses these cruel gifts to seduce any influential woman who can boost him from the gutters to the top of Paris society. Pattinson is, of course, a handsome man, but asked to convey Duroy’s scheming with minimal dialogue he tends to just glare petulantly. The story itself remains interestingly modern — it is more possible than ever to achieve great fame with no discernible talent — but this production, with a fine ensemble cast directed to theatrical performances, has little at its heart. Like Duroy, it might be pretty on the surface, but inside it is completely hollow.
Even with a strong cast to gild its endless chambers and salons, there's barely a spark of soul to fuel its story. Pattinson is no Malkovich either.