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