Director: Anne Fontaine
Starring: Gemma Arterton, Jason Flemyng, Fabrice Luchini, Niels Schneider
Gemma Bovery, the latest film from Anne Fontaine, is a tragicomedy based on Posy Simmond’s graphic novel re-imagination of Flaubert’s moral tale of a discontented housewife, Madame Bovary.
Set in Flaubert’s home town in Normandy, local baker and literary romantic Martin Joubert (Fabrice Luchini) takes a keen interest in his English expatriate neighbours when he discovers their names; Charles and Gemma Bovery. Martin excitedly tells his family of the coincidence, and is disappointed with their scepticism. He becomes infatuated with Gemma and her strikingly similar attributes to her literary near-namesake, and finds himself willing her to mirror the actions of Emma Bovary’s tragic story. We soon discover the young anglaise couple’s move to Normandy is an attempt to save their marriage. However, Gemma is a modern Londoner married to the wrong man, and she does not enjoy the rustic countryside life as much as her unwitting husband does.
Joubert becomes increasingly agitated and invasive as the plot unfolds, and tries to meddle when he discovers that Gemma is committing adultery with Herve de Bressigny (Niels Schneider), the feckless son of the town’s wealthiest family. What unfolds is a series of farcical events, culminating in a tragic, yet hilarious ending.
I entered the theatre sceptical, to say the least. As a fan of the original Flaubert novel, I was concerned how a movie based on a graphic novel inspired by a novel would translate to screen.The words ‘Jane Austen Book Club’ come to mind. But I did surprise myself with some unexpected chortles, and rather enjoyed it. If you are a fan of Flaubert or farcical French comedies, then you will like this one.
Review by Caitlin Frunks