Two KST movies this week—one really awful and one quite fun, and aided considerably by the comparison. Bel Ami (trailer) came to attention via a Netflix preview, with many attributes to recommend it: cast (KST, Uma Thurman, Christina Ricci, and Robert Pattinson), 1880’s Parisian costume drama, based on Guy de Maupassant’s second novel. What could go wrong? So much, really. Not a whit of humor in the whole movie, though there certainly were laughable moments. Not all 130-year-old plots are suitable to modern audiences, and this one is not. Worst was putting Pattinson up as the lover of the three women. His character had nothing to recommend him—he was a journalist who couldn’t write, he was acknowledged by one and all as not very bright, and Pattinson, striking his match against these three strong performers, created no fire. Rotten Tomatoes critics’ rating: 28%.
The second movie, missed in the theaters, was Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (trailer), directed by Lasse Hallstrom, and based on a well-received satiric novel by Paul Torday. This has true comedic moments, with every character admitting the unlikelihood of the premise, judging it only “theoretically possible.” Here is a romance of equals, with Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt in the leads, ably supported by Amr Waked. KST plays the press secretary to the British prime minister with gleeful imperiousness. Filmed in Morocco (possibly near their film capital, Ouzazarte, near the southern Atlas Mountains, where I have visited) and glossing over the hydrology challenges of a country with no year-round fresh water, our heroes pluckily plunge ahead to a satisfying, if foreseeable, conclusion. Not enlightening, but entertaining, and never takes itself too seriously. Rotten Tomatoes critics’ rating: 67%.