For Reel

Madame Bovary (2014)
September 1, 2015, 1:42 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Sophie Barthes
2.5 Stars
Madame BovaryThe latest adaptation of Madame Bovary is serviceable as a cliff notes retelling of the events that transpire in Gustave Flaubert’s masterpiece, but it proves to be just as rewarding of an experience. It feels locked in its form, its screenplay and actors trying desperately to spit out their lines so they can get on to adapting the next chapter. A faithful adaptation might have provided some excitement had it maintained the complexities of the novel, but alas. Here, Emma (Mia Wasikowska) is decidedly an oppressed victim of her society–certainly a defining characteristic in Flaubert’s telling, but the film’s telescoped focus on her tragedy above all others ironically seems to damn her all the more. And so absent is the novel’s tremendous sense of comedy, its ice-cold satire of notions of sentimental romanticism, that anytime the actors deliver a line tinged with anything resembling humor they seem unsure. Wasikowska settles into the role as the film progresses (initially, she plays Emma as too wise to be drawn into this rabbit hole), but Ezra Miller is woefully miscast as Leon. The inspired casting choice of Paul Giamatti as Monsieur Homais is largely a waste, but both Rhys Ifans as Lheureux and Logan Marshall-Green as the Marquis are on point–appropriately malevolent and shockingly disaffected when Emma is approaching her end.

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