DVD Review: Bel Ami (15), (103 mins), new on DVD from Blockbuster.

The bizarre way that Anna Karenina, currently in the cinemas, has been put together makes this particular film version of another great work of 19th century fiction seem rather pedestrian in its ambition.

But there is no doubting that a straight telling of the tale – without any fanciful new perspectives – is by far the more effective way of going about it. An impressive cast then does the rest.

Twilight’s Robert Pattinson is Guy de Maupassant’s destitute young soldier, Georges Duroy, a man whose amorality is matched only by his ambition as he beds his way towards power and influence.

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Seduction is everything, and in seducing a succession of variously-impressionable women - leaving us and them wondering whether he feels any real feeling at all – he climbs the greasy pole at a time of great unrest in 19th century Paris.

Pattinson is great at smiling sweetly while conveying little genuine sweetness, and when the tables are turned on him, Pattinson – given so much more to work with here than in those dopey vampire movies – gives us a man more than capable of meeting the challenge.

This is social climbing through the sheets, and Pattinson’s George – ticking off Uma Thurman, Christina Ricci and Kristin Scott Thomas along the way – is a man on the most self-seeking of missions.

Phil Hewitt

Rental courtesy of Blockbuster. For details of other new releases, see www.blockbuster.co.uk.