4 November 2014 | dbdumonteil
"La Provinciale " (the title is revealing) displays the same hatred from the provinces as "Madame Bovary" ,Gustave Flaubert 's famous novel.Both Moravia's and the French writer's heroines are romantic girls ,who dream of a wealthy life ,in luxury,of a socialite's life ,in Roma or in Paris .Whereas Emma Bovary was born on a farm ,Gemma lives with her mom in a seedy apartment ,but she has privileged access to the aristocratic milieu :the viewer can wonder why,but actually her mother has a terrible secret to conceal.
The movie is well constructed:first,the scene of the dinner when Gemma tries to kill the "carnival" Comtessa ,as a character calls her ,a scene which will be shown again.Then a long flashback which shows the heroine's past and why she feels resentful towards this hateful fat woman for ,although she claims she is her friend,having been some kind of madam,for
even trying to blackmail her .Voices- over reveal the characters ' points of view:Gemma,her mother and her husband.The latter feels guilt although he did nothing really wrong: "I loved books more than my wife".This brilliant scientist,incidentally,is despised by these idle rich,just as Madame Bovary's husband ,a physician, was considered an oafish failure.
When he watches the dinner scene for the second time,the viewer feels the same hate for the false Comtessa ,as the camera stops at Gemma's face ,on the verge of a fit of hysterics.
Gina Lollobrigida proves that she was much more than a pretty face;Gabriele Ferzetti is convincing in a thankless part;but the stand -out is arguably Alda Mangina,who shines as the wife's evil genius.