Been ignoring 'Bel Ami'. What does that mean, anyway? Good friend? Something. Bad title. But, that's not the reason I haven't paid attention. It's the dreadful posters. Here's the first one:
Oof. That look from Robert Pattinson, the division of the image into four columns with rounded edges -- straight from the 80s (worse yet, TV from the 80s, perhaps even the 70s). That brassy contrast. And, why is Uma Thurman the only other person casting a snide look our way? How come Christina Ricci and Kristin Scott Thomas aren't nailing us with a haughty glare? I guess they can't be bothered.
Then, there's the finer point: The tagline is three words -- Temptation. Seduction. Obsession. -- but the graphic is divided into four parts and there are four people. What? Three people have classic dramatic attributes but one is just kinda there? (Yes, I know, but everything counts. All they had to do was add a fourth word. 'Desire' would have done it. 'Betrayal' might have worked. You know...'something'). I wrote this movie off with the debut of this poster. I didn't even watch a trailer.
But, then, we got another poster:
Okay, better. Warmer, more muted color, got rid of the Brady Bunch columns, and now three of four characters make eye contact -- Christina thinks someone's knocking at the door, or maybe she's wondering if she left the lights on. Despite Scott Thomas' whatever expression and Uma's nose in the air and boobs out-thrust (I guess they thought she wasn't holier-than-thou enough in the first poster), this is much better and I started feeling guilty about dissing the movie. Maybe, just maybe there's hope, I thought. Still, though, I was adamant in my rejection and refused to watch a trailer. I was swayed, yes, but not quite convinced. The new tag did it: Consumed by desire! Ouch. The first poster had that TV Guide layout, this one flaunts a romance novel/soap opera tagline. And, still with Pattinson's too serious to be taken seriously soul-piercing look. No thanks.
They still had a ways to go before I'd give this movie a chance. And, today, we get another poster. A beauty:
Yikes! That's good! Did they plan this? Did they purposefully start with a garish off-putting one sheet then slowly, over time, ply us with better and better posters until we just had to see the movie (or at least watch the trailer)? Atmospheric, with an eerie quality -- they're like manikins in a vintage clothing store's display window. All four of them look at us -- nice for consistency's sake -- all with warm intelligence (except for Pattinson, who sticks with the 'I'm gonna git you sucka' vibe). The dress is lovely, hair immaculate -- charming. Love the concentration of elements in the center, wide Merlot border, smoky contrast, and cool slightly desaturated color palette. Stately, with a sense of backstory. A bit melodramatic, but in a good period-piece way. A winning poster.
Now, I'll watch a trailer. The very next chance I get. Swear.
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