Madame Bovary

“Why?”, you could ask, “Oh! why make another film version of Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary?”. And I could tell you, ” Well, because sometimes they get it right.” Reading the novel is not a requirement to appreciate the film. These are two different mediums. My question is “Why is there always a need to adapt classic novels, why not start anew with original, modern, relevant and fresh stories?” But that’s a debate for another review, because I liked Sophie Barthes’s Madame Bovary. Mia Wasikowska plays Emma Bovary, the new wife of Charles Bovary (Henry Lloyd-Hughes). Charles is a doctor in a small country village in Normandy. Soon Emma is bored and displeased with her life and daydreams about the exciting, romantic lives she reads in novels. She start buying expensive dresses on credit so she can go to a ball given by the local Marquis (Logan Marshall-Green). And she has an affair with the Marquis and another one with Leon Dupuis (Ezra Miller), a young man the couple have befriended. With all the clothes and furniture she bought on credit, her husband finds himself unable to pay the debt. Her main creditor is Monsieur Lheureux, a merchant who spells trouble from the moment we see him. Lheureux is the type of sneaky character one would find in a Dickens novel, and is perfectly played by Rhys Ifans. The presence of American actor Paul Giamatti as the local pharmacist should also be mentioned. From what I know, in Rose Barreneche’s adaptation, Emma is the sole focus of the film, and Charles’s importance is considerably reduced. As such, this will undoubtedly anger the purists, who would like to have every scenes and dialogue from the novel untouched. But I liked Madame Bovary because it was not a talking head film. Actually, Mia Wasikowska does not utter a word for at least ten minutes into the film. Long delicate minutes. I got the cue from the beautiful, delicate Evgueni and Sacha Galperine piano score. And the work from cinematographer Andrij Parekh is full of despair and sadness from the start. Wasikowska plays a woman unable to control her impulses, and is not afraid to show her character’s dark side. The actress goes from delicate flower to annoying spoiled child in the course of the film. And that is why you should make another film version of Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary.

Rémi-Serge Gratton


Madame Bovary

Directed by:

Sophie Barthes

Screenplay by:

Rose Barreneche

Based on Gustave Flaubert’s novel


Mia Wasikowska

Rhys Ifans

Logan Marshall-Green

Henry Lloyd-Hughes

Laura Carmichael

Ezra Miller

Paul Giamatti

118 min.



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