Gemma Bovary (2014)
Cast includes: Fabrice Luchini (The Women on the 6th Floor), Gemma Arterton (Tamara Drewe), Jason Flemyng (Snatch), Niels Schneider (I Killed My Mother)
Director: Anne Fontaine (Coco Before Chanel)
Genre: Comedy | Romance (99 minutes) French with subtitles
Martin Joubert gave up his career in academia and return to Normandy to take over his father’s bakery. That was 7 years ago. Since then he’s been seeking a peaceful and balanced life… “Fat chance!” He can’t help worrying… like today when he burns the bread. No need to worry… “The English don’t shoot themselves.” But Charlie is in his yard burning all of Gemma’s things. “I think it’s best to just burn everything” says Charles. Even her diaries are in the pile. As soon as Charlie turns his back, Martin snatches the diaries and puts them in his jacket. Back home, he starts reading… how Gemma decided to get married, how she loved the smell of varnish and sawdust, the little white puppy she got on her wedding day, even Charles’s conflict with his ex-wife… “I have to live on something.” Maybe that explains why the couple moved from London to Normandy, bought a fixer-upper and Charles started his furniture restoration business.
For Martin, it started that Sunday at 10:00 when the couple first arrived… the English seem to be taking over everything. Now an English couple has bought the house across the road. Martin’s dog Gus doesn’t care where they’re from… Gus runs right over to meet the little white dog, Carrington. “Guess what their name is,” Martin says to his wife and “crap-talking” son. “Bovary! This is incredible,” because “Madame Bovary” is one of Martin’s favorite classics… and the author Gustave Flaubert is from Rouen in Normandy, the setting for “Madame Bovary.” Naturally Martin has noticed how much Gemma resembles Flaubert’s heroine… the bored beauty, simply waiting for something to happen. Yikes! “A mouse!” screams Gemma and insists that Charlie get poison to put out. “Absolutely not,” says Martin… that’s arsenic… but Gemma has no idea why Martin is concerned about arsenic. Has she read “Madame Bovary”? No… but she’s thinking about it. On a chance encounter… Gus and Carrington… Martin shows Gemma the chateau… just a charming old ruin. Oh well… she runs along, waving goodbye. “That meaningless little wave awakened 10 years of dormant sexuality,” Martin tells us.
How did Martin know that Gemma was going to fall for Hervé? How did Martin know that Gemma would grow bored with Charlie? Is he going to let events play out right under his nose, without doing a thing to stop them? Martin’s read the book. Martin used to teach “Madame Bovary” for God sake. And he’s a worrier… we’ve already figured that out. So, no… he can’t stand by and watch Gemma Bovary go down that path. At first he tries ESP, but that doesn’t work. Maybe he needs to step it up. Gemma Bovary is an absolutely charming movie, based on a graphic novel by Posy Simmonds. Naturally, it’s filled with references to the classic novel, but you don’t have to have read “Madame Bovary” to enjoy the movie. Gemma Arterton as Gemma Bovary is absolutely the embodiment of luscious, naïve sensuality. Fabrice Luchini, as Martin, has a face so expressive, you almost don’t need dialogue. As the plot thickens, we’re not sure whether Martin’s motives are pure or if we’re even rooting for his cause. The film is filled with risqué humor… yet things are not always what they seem.
4 popped kernels
Lover of literature desperate to save the real-life M. Bovary from following the destiny of her namesake
Rated: R (Sexual Content)
Gender Style: Sensitive
Distribution: Art House
Tempo: Cruises Comfortably
Visual Style: Nicely Varnished Realism
Nutshell: Madame Bovary takeoff
Language: True to life
Social Significance: Pure Entertainment