Film reviews

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Bel Ami (15 – Dir: Donnellan/Ormerod - Stars: Robert Pattinson, Uma Therman, Kriston Scott Thomas, Christina Ricci)

Georges Duroy (Pattinson) is a destitute ex-soldier back from north Africa when he by chance meets a former colleague in a gambling den.

Given a start, he begins a desperate and increasingly cynical climb to the top of Parisian society.

He’s short on any kind of talent to secure his future, bar one: he’s irresistible to women. In a world where power is wielded by the women behind influential men, it proves to be his ticket to fortune.

Those women include Madeleine (Thurman), Clotilde (Ricci) and Madame Rousset (Scott Thomas).

Pattinson adds an adult appeal to his Twilight adolescence, and is a match for the emotionally charged performances of his womenfolk.

8/10

Act of Valour (15 – Dir: Scot Waugh/Mousse McCoy – Stars: Roselyn Sanchez, Jason Cottle, Alex Veadov)

On release the fact that leading roles in Act of Valour were played by active-duty Navy Seals was claimed to give the film a greater proximity to reality.

In fact, it’s no more realistic a war movie than any number of recent releases where film action is so good.

And what little is gained from casting real soldiers is out-weighed by a loss of acting ability.

Much of the dialogue is wooden and one-tone.

Still, Act of Valour is a slick, non-stop action thriller stuffed with dazzling gadgetry, billion dollar hardware and unbeatable US military know-how.

Too slick at times: missions are so well-informed, planned and executed that you wait for something to go wrong, and when it does it’s the heroic event of the title.

Much is made of beefy guys walking off into the sunset.

7/10

Shanghai (15 – Dir: Mikael Hafstrom – Stars: John Cusack, Gong Li, Chow Yn-Fat, Ken Watanabe)

Days before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour and the invasion of China, US spy Paul Soames is deep in a deadly struggle with a local gangster and intelligence officer following the death of his best friend and fellow spy.

Shanghai captures a steamy, half-lit claustrophobia of a city about to collapse. Strong support, with Cusack offering his usual calmness personified.

7/10