Madame Bovary: Film Review
Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Ezra Miller, Paul Giamatti, Rhys Ifans
Director: Sophie Barthes
Typical, you wait years for a Bovary adaptation and two come along (sort of) in relatively close succession.
While we've recently had Gemma Bovery starring Gemma Arterton, a lighter take on the story and based on Posy Simmonds' graphic novel, this latest is a straighter and closer to the source material take on Flaubert's tragedy.
Wasikowska, complete in some sumptuous costuming, stars as the bored but beautiful Bovary. Finding her life with her doctor husband a little dreary, Bovary begins to instigate a plan of social succession to escape the mundane nature of her life.
But, tragedy and debt lie ahead for Bovary.
Sophie Barthes' adaptation of Gustav Flaubert's Madame Bovary packs every bit of literary flair in as you'd imagine. It looks prestige, even if the film itself occasionally feels stilted, frosty and oddly aloof.
Wasikowska acquits herself fairly well as the lead, but there's very little other than dreariness to latch onto - Ifans' Monsieur Lhereux is like a devil on Bovary's shoulder, provoking her into buying and pushing her into demonic debt (his ethos being that "money should never be the problem, only the solution"); he provides the sole breathe of life into proceedings which desperately need enlivening as time goes by.
It's all elegantly costumed and will appeal to lovers of period pieces, but the fact it remains so cold and occasionally distant could mean many will find it hard to latch onto. Visually the film has its moments with the director making the most of the countryside around her, but all in all this Madame Bovary feels more like it's destined to haunt the inhabitants of the classroom for eternity, rather than enthrall the masses at the box office.