“GEMMA BOVARY” My rating: C+ (Opening June 12 at the Tivoli)
99 minutes | MPAA rating: R
Going in, the logical assumption is that Anne Fontaine’s “Gemma Bovary” is a present-day updating of Flaubert’s classic Madame Bovary (a straight cinematic adaptation opens today at the Cinetopia).
Actually, it’s more complicated and ambitious than that. Perhaps too ambitious for its own good.
The story is told through the narration of Martin (Fabrice Luchini), the sixty-ish baker in a rural Normandy burg. He tells us that he used to be a literary editor in Paris, but gave it up for an uncomplicated life in the sticks.
Now he’s bored silly.
So he takes special interest when he discovers that his new neighbors, a young English couple, are named Charles and Gemma Bovary (Jason Flemyng, Gemma Arterton). Quelle coincidence…the newcomers have almost exactly the same names as Flaubert’s characters.
Fascinated and not a little turned on by his pretty new neighbor, Martin befriends the Bovarys (Charles restores antiques, Gemma is an interior decorator specializing in trompe l’oeil) and begins actively studying (or spying on) them.
When he realizes that Gemma — going a bit stir crazy with rural life — has turned to a young law student (Niels Schneider) for a torrid affair, Martin smells a looming disaster. He moves surreptitiously to nip the illicit romance in the bud.
But good deeds can have unforeseen and disastrous consequences. Continue Reading »