Gemma Bovery: Film Review
Cast: Gemma Arterton, Fabrice Lucini, Jason Flemyng, Niels Schneider
Director: Anne Fontaine
Gemma Arterton once again becomes the cinematic muse to Posy Simmonds' writing in this latest, a big screen adaptation of Gemma Bovery, which ran weekly in The Guardian back in 1999.
Lucini plays Joubert, a Frenchman obsessed with literature - and specifically Madame Bovary - in Normandy. This baker finds his life turned around when Gemma Bovery and her husband Charles (Arterton and Flemyng respectively) move into their neighbouring house.
Struck by the literary parallels between Gemma and Madame Bovary, Joubert becomes unhealthily obsessed with Gemma, and finds his interest piqued even further when she begins to drift from her own husband and into the arms of a younger man (Schneider)...
Gemma Bovery is a breezy, light piece of French fare that's gorgeous to the eye, but light on the brain.
Simmonds' cartoon/ graphic novel was all about a woman bored with life within a rural idyll and Fontaine carries this off to maximum effect with the picturesque surroundings of Normandy, and an eye for what a perfect French life would be.
Initially, there's a humour present that rumbles along nicely - mainly thanks to Joubert's overt snobbery and literary diatribes (much to the horror of his family) - but it soon diverts into your usual story of unhappiness once the seams are picked away.
Tamara Drewe star Gemma Arterton is easy on the eye throughout, a fact Fontaine is clearly aware of, stopping just short of using soft focus each time she's on screen to convey Joubert's perception of her and the idolising he does. But she occasionally brings some of the depth needed to the character to make the actress seem less of a character from a cartoon.
Which is perhaps just as well as any supporting characters outside of Bovery and Joubert get little other than a once-over-lightly; Joubert's wife is nothing short of a harpy, his son a simpering idiot and Flemyng's Charles is nothing more than a presence rather than a partner.
As light and fluffy as a cloud in the skies above the south of France, Gemma Bovery is a forgettable flick once the lights have gone up kind of movie; it's visually appealing, but offers little to the grey matter when it's over.