"You have no conception of the depth of your emptiness," Madeleine (Uma Thurman) sneers at Georges Duroy (Robert Pattinson) at one stage during Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod's adaptation of Guy de Maupassant's novel about a journalist in 19th-century Paris on the make.
Twilight's Pattinson has a familiar vampiric pallor as the arch-seducer who worms his way into the affections of Clotilde (Christina Ricci), Madame Rousset (Kristin Scott Thomas) and Madeleine, through their beds and into a position of power and influence. His performance is judged well-enough – he's a smirking opportunist who makes up in audacity for what he lacks in journalistic ability. However, Donnellan and Ormerod, so assured when directing on stage for Cheek by Jowl, struggle with the challenges posed by a period movie. They can't sketch in scenes but are obliged to provide so much visual detail that the film soon creaks under its weight. And Duroy is such a cipher that the film has absolutely no emotional traction.