Winter 2015 Features series
Sunday, March 29, 2015 at 4:00pm
Sunday, March 29, 2015 at 7:00pm
Directed by Anne Fontaine
Screenplay by Anne Fontaine and Pascal Bonitzer
Based on the book by Posy Simmonds
Starring Jason Flemyng, Gemma Arterton, and Fabrice Luchini
Rated NR ·
English and French
For the source of her latest film, director Anne Fontaine (Coco Before Chanel) has turned to graphic novelist Posy Simmonds, whose update of Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd provided Stephen Frears with the story for 2010’s Tamara Drewe. This time, Gustave Flaubert’s classic novel of romantic yearning, Madame Bovary, is the basis for another imaginative recasting of a timeless masterpiece.
Embracing the melancholy of Flaubert’s book while placing it against the bucolic wonders of the verdant Norman landscape, Gemma Bovery orbits around its young, married protagonist, in this telling an Englishwoman (Gemma Arterton, Tamara Drewe) who moves to a small French village with her husband (Jason Flemyng). Another recent arrival is Martin Joubert (Fabrice Luchini, Cycling with Molière, Potiche), a baker who has fled Paris, along with his long-suffering wife, in search of stability and equilibrium. Martin rapidly takes a proprietary interest in the English beauty and falls under the spell of her charm. Gemma’s passionate nature is ill-served by her husband, and it is not long before her eye starts to wander.
Fontaine’s film is not just an incisive look at a young woman confronting a series of key choices in her life as she loses her head in a fit of passion: in her clever revision of the Flaubert original, she portrays Joubert as a man completely aware of the narrative of Madame Bovary, and who makes awkward and self-conscious interventions in an attempt to change that story. Luchini is perfect as the wary, lovelorn baker, while Arterton—who also starred as the title character in Frears’ film—fits the role of her namesake to perfection. As both the object and subject of love, she glides into her role with effortless aplomb.
“The time period and spelling may be different, but Gustave Flaubert’s most famous creation is very much alive in Gemma Bovery, a breezy postmodern update of the classic novel that replaces the book’s darker passages for tongue-in-cheek laughs and plenty of eye candy.” (Jordan Mintzer, The Hollywood Repor