Gemma Bovery

"A transmogrified Flaubert, recast, upturned and rich with observational and satirical contemporary details." 3.5 stars out of 4, Globe & Mail.

“The time period and spelling may be different, but Gustave Flaubert’s most famous creation is very much alive in Gemma Bovery, a breezy postmodern update of the classic novel that replaces the book’s darker passages for tongue-in-cheek laughs and plenty of eye candy — whether it’s the sprawling Gallic countryside, a bakery filled with boules de pain or else Madame Bovery herself.

“Adapted from Posy Simmonds’ popular graphic novel, this enjoyable outing from director Anne Fontaine (Coco Before Chanel, Adore) stars British bombshell Gemma Arterton as the latest, and one of the sexiest, incarnations of French literature’s favorite desperate housewife. But it’s co-star Fabrice Luchini, playing both neighbor and narrator, who winds up stealing the show, providing an amusing portrait of a man whose dual obsession with Flaubert and the woman next door leads to no good.

“After quitting the world of Paris publishing, Martin Joubert (Luchini) moves back to his Normandy hometown to take over the family bakery, bringing along his nagging wife (Isabelle Candelier) and nitwit of a son (Kacey Mottet Klein). Nothing much happens in their humdrum little village until a newly married couple moves into the country house across the street: the British expat Charlie Bovery (Jason Flemyng) and his gorgeous younger wife, Gemma (Arterton).

“Immediately seduced by Gemma’s beauty, as well as by the fact that she has nearly the same name (and as he will soon learn, same life) as Flaubert’s heroine, Joubert starts keeping tabs on his new neighbor while striking up a friendship that’s filled with underlying sexual tension, at least on his part.

“Gemma meets Herve de Bressigny (Niels Schneider), a dashing aristocratic wastrel shacked up in his family's nearby chateau. Soon enough, and just like in the book, Gemma and Herve begin a torrid affair as the nosy Joubert watches from afar, and sometimes up close. Things then take a turn that recalls the downward spiral of the original Madame Bovary, though there are twists and a few laughs in store before the film winds down.

“Arterton's physique gives plenty of excuses for French comic ace Luchini (Bicycling With Moliere) to do his usual deadpan shtick, and Gemma Bovery is very much centered around his performance, offering up more laughs than any Flaubert-inspired work thus far. As pure entertainment it certainly does the job.
- Jordan Mintzer, Hollywood Reporter


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