28 May 2015

Gemma Bovery - film review

From At The Movies, 7:40 pm on 28 May 2015

Directed by Anne Fontaine, starring Gemma Arterton and Fabrice Luchini

In France, the novel Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert is considered a national treasure. 

When it came out in the 19th Century, it was also the publishing equivalent of Fifty Shades of Grey , the potentially shocking tale of a dissatisfied wife’s search for pleasure. A fit subject for deconstruction, you might think…

Well you would if you’d actually got to the end of the novel. I just didn’t get it, unlike British graphic novelist Posy Simmonds, who rewrote it as a Frenchified version of the Englishified Gemma Bovery, but there any pleasure ends. For this you can blame French writer-director Anne Fontaine, who as far as I can tell has sucked any pleasure – and certainly most of the jokes – from the original graphic novel.

Part of the problem was I wasn’t as up on the detail of the original novel as I should have been, and as director Anne Fontaine assumed I would be. No doubt any French schoolboys would be nudging each other as each lightly-distorted, familiar plot-point passed by. But all I could think was “Is this going anywhere?”

It’s unfortunate that there’s a straight version of the original Madame Bovary on its way to our cinemas next month.  I suspect I might have kept up with Gemma Bovery a bit better with that under my belt. Failing that, there was only pain by the end of this boring piece of choux-pastry.

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