Director: Anne Fontaine
Writer: Pascal Bonitzer, Anne Fontaine
Based on: Posy Simmonds‘ comic and Gustave Flaubert‘s Madame Bovary
Cast: Fabrice Luchini, Gemma Arterton, Jason Flemyng, Isabelle Candelier, Niels Schneider, Edith Scob
Martin Joubert (Fabrice Luchini) is a literature professor turned baker, living a rather quiet life with his family in a small village. But then new neighbors arrive: Gemma (Gemma Arterton) and Charlie Bovery (Jason Flemyng) who moved there from England. Martin is quickly obsessed with Gemma, believing that she is the real life Madame Bovary since he keeps finding parallels between her life and the book. Soon he starts meddling and that’s not really a good thing, even if done with good intentions.
I really enjoyed Gemma Bovery. It was funny, sweet and it had Gemma Arterton [who is a wonderful actress and one the most beautiful people on this earth, so that’s always a plus].
I have to come right out and say it – I have not read Madame Bovary. Nor did I even have much of an idea what it’s about before the film. And I don’t know the comic this is based on, either. If I had had a little more time, I would have read both, but it was not supposed to be. But at least that knowledge wasn’t necessary for me to enjoy the film.
I really liked the set-up of the story. I don’t know how closely Fontaine sticks to the comic, but her Gemma is a woman constantly confronted by men who want to mold her into their ideal woman – be it her husband Charlie, her ex-boyfriend Patrick (Mel Raido) or Joubert himself. Neither sees Gemma for who she is, only for who they want her to be. Which in the end [SPOILER] costs her happiness and then her life [/SPOILER].
Gemma Arterton is perfect for that role. And not only because I completely understand why you’d be obsessed with her, but mostly because she doesn’t allow Gemma (Bovery) to be reduced to her sensuality, without giving it up. [It probably helps that a woman directed the film for her to pull that off.] The film revolves around her, even though she’s not the protagonist – which sometimes made me question why we’d need Joubert at all, to be honest.
But Luchini does a good job as Joubert as well and keeps him relatable enough, even at his creepier moments, so that you never actually wish for him not to be the protagonist. Instead you sometimes raise your eyebrows at him a bit, but mostly you can lean back and enjoy the film.