MADAME BOVARY (2015)
Adapted from Flaubert's classic novel, Madame Bovary tells the tragic story of Emma (Mia Wasikowska), a young beauty who impulsively marries a small-town doctor (Henry Lloyd-Hughes) to leave her father's pig farm behind. But after being introduced to the glamorous world of high society, she soon becomes bored with her stodgy mate and seeks excitement and status outside the bonds of marriage.
Review by Louise Keller:
The cost of temptation is the beguiling theme of this tale adapted from Gustave Flaubert's classic novel in which a country doctor's wife pays the price when she succumbs: to the arts, sexual passion, material beauty and ambition. Cold Souls director Sophie Barthes has created a rich and involving film, coloured by hope and good intentions; shattered by the clouds of disillusionment.
Craving emotion not discipline, Madame Bovary's dreams of happiness are fatally punctured, as her new life as a wife in provincial France brings nothing - day after day. Although her husband Charles (Henry Lloyd-Hughes), a man of habit and custom bores her endlessly, in fact he proves himself to be a good man with strong morals. He is the oak tree around which she is the fluttering leaf, seeking a branch on which to rest.
I like the words of wisdom offered by the local priest (Richard Cordery), who professes to be a doctor of the soul: 'there is great silence in the sounds of nature' and 'we are all born to suffer'. Flaubert's first novel is all about suffering and in this adaptation, Mia Wasikowska soars in the title role as Emma Bovary, who pays dearly for yielding to her fancies and fantasies.
Just as Emma stumbles deeper and deeper into the woods near her home in 19th century France in the opening scenes (before the flashback that takes us to the beginning of the tale), so too, do we become involved in her life, her plight, her loves and her choices.
Let him be the right one, she murmurs as she prepares for her arranged marriage, but boredom and disappointment are quick to follow. Then come the temptations - Leon (Ezra Miller) the charming law student who needs art to feed his soul; the handsome, worldly Marquis d'Andervilliers (Logan Marshall-Greenwith) whom Emma discovers passion and the smooth-talking merchant Monsieur Lheureux (Rhys Ifans), who bewitches the innocent bride by the elegance and beauty of worldly goods. Paul Giamatti (who starred in Cold Souls) is also good as the pharmacist whose well-meaning intentions regarding a local with a club foot offers Emma a different kind of temptation - to elevate her position.
Her heart flutters and she succumbs; her home is beautified and the debts rise and all the while Emma is sucked in deeper and deeper. In lust, in love, in guilt and in debt. The development of the changes in all the relationships are especially well done and all the cast is superb.
It might be set in 19th century France amid corsets, arranged marriages and the moral codes of the times, but the story embraces timeless truths and remains relevant. For the thinker, there is much to contemplate: does succumbing to temptation indicate weakness, strength or a bit of both?
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MADAME BOVARY (2015) (M)
(Ger, Belgium, US, 2014)
CAST: Mia Wasikowska, Rhys Ifans, Ezra Miller, Paul Giamatti, Laura Carmichael and Henry Lloyd-Hughes
PRODUCER: Sophie Barthes, Felipe Marino, Jaime Mateus-Tique, Joe Neurater
DIRECTOR: Sophie Barthes
SCRIPT: Felipe Marino, Sophie Barthes (novel by Gustave Flaubert)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Andrij Parekh
EDITOR: Mikkel E.G. Nielsen
MUSIC: Evgueni Galperine, Sacha Galperine
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Benoit Barouh
RUNNING TIME: 118 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Transmission
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 2, 2015