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  • This was Claude Chabrol's intention and it's easier to say than to do. Gustave Flaubert's novel was so rich, undulating that any adaptation in images can only be reducing and simplistic. More than the tragic story of its heroine, Flaubert's novel encompassed a word picture of Normandy (the bulk of the film was shot in the village of Lyons-La-Forêt near Rouen) and a cruel, cynical vision of the world. If the first feature is satisfying on the screen, the second one is hardly perceptible. Hence, this crucial question: is it possible to fully recreate Flaubert's novel? Chabrol's film is faithful to the main plot with the rise and fall of her heroine sometimes told by François Périer's voice-over in spite of accelerated views on certain vital episodes, notably the peasant marriage that disgusted Emma Bovary. On the other hand, the crest of the novel (the ball to the marquis) found a perfect equivalent in Chabrol's film with this shot which goes through the turning dresses creating thus a whirlpool. The glittering life Emma dreams of instead of a dull one with her mediocre husband Charles.

    Chabrol is buoyed by topnotch interpretations. Even if Isabelle Huppert is a convincing Emma Bovary, a woman whose messy dreams and follies badly conceal boredom and disgust of her condition, the other main actors steal the show with Jean-François Balmer as the perfect, narrow-minded Charles Bovary, Christophe Malavoy as unfaithful Rodolphe Boulanger and Jean Yanne as the unscrupulous chemist Homais.

    "Madame Bovary" is aesthetically a refined work with lush scenery and lavish costumes that recreate rural life in Normandy in the middle of the nineteenth Century. But Chabrol doesn't break new ground with this adaptation that required something else than an elegant directing, a brilliant cast and splendid scenery. That's why his rendering of Flaubert's work is just an honorable reading of the novel in the end. One could also add that Flaubert's book was a solid opportunity for an onslaught at provincial lower middle class. But it's only skimmed over and it's a wasted bonanza.

    Chabrol's reading of "Madame Bovary" amounts to the same result as Claude Berri's adaptation of Emile Zola's epic novel "Germinal" in 1993: honorable instead of being unforgettable, a commendable action instead of a ground-breaking creation. The author of "le Boucher" (1970) was rather on the wrong track but fortunately, he'll find his way again the following year with another woman depiction: "Betty" (1992). Georges Simenon's universe suits him much better than Flaubert's one.
  • I agree with the consensus here that this film adaptation is largely unsatisfying. However, I question whether Flaubert's masterpiece can ever be translated graciously to the screen. I suspect that a novel famous for having every word exactly in place, and whose appeal lies as much in the relentless poetic flow of its prose as in the brutally frank psychological characterization of its heroine (and a few other characters!), may be forever out of the reach of other media, and might best be left to pursue its own life on paper.

    I also agree that Ms. Huppert's portrayal is cold, but I've always seen Emma as being that way. After all--she's nuts. Crazy people are seldom full of human warmth. Emma Bovary is among the select handful of fictional characters neurotic enough to have given their names to a pathological condition (in this case, bovarism).

    It's always possible to admire a movie for its visual beauty, and this one wins hands-down in that category.

    But if you want the full impact of the wretched, wrenching story--you have to go back to the book. I applaud Mr. Chabrol for trying, even if he didn't succeed, to make a perhaps impossible adaptation.
  • Anybody taking on Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary should get some credit for the effort, the book is a classic and one of the greatest pieces of European literature(it's also easy to see why it was so controversial at the time) but it isn't an easy one to adapt at all with some very easy traps to fall into(making the characters one-dimensional for one). Of the three adaptations of the book seen so far personally- the others being the 2000 and 1949 versions-, this one is the most faithful but also the one that resonated with me least. There is much to like still, for one it looks absolutely gorgeous with very picturesque scenery, evocative settings, make-up and costuming and photography that is elegant and alive with colour. The music is hauntingly understated and lyrical, underlying the atmosphere while letting the drama speak. Claude Chabrol directs with a deft if at times clinical hand, particularly good in showing how rigid socially and morally mid-19th century French provincial life was. The performances are also great. Isabelle Huppert can understandably be seen as cold(to be honest Emma is the main reason why the book adaptation-wise is not that accessible because it is not easy to feel genuine sympathy for her), especially compared to Frances O'Connor and Jennifer Jones, and maybe she is not youthful enough in the early scenes but her classic beauty makes her perfect for period drama and she does act with coolness and poise but there is a sense of being stifled and being a victim of her own passions. Jean-Francois Balmer is appropriately mild-mannered and sympathetic if somewhat equally appropriately clueless as her husband.

    While Christophe Malavoy has the suavity and enigmatic menace just right and Lucas Belvaux is gentle without being dull. Jean Yanne shows Homais' unscrupulousness very well, and Jean-Louis Maury is good also as the malefic L'Heureux. Some things didn't come across as well. That it is faithful in detail to the book is laudable(most of the dialogue word for word), but it is one of those cases like the 1974 adaptation of The Great Gatsby of being too faithful that the dialogue while astonishingly literate and poetic lacks spark and emotion, the irony that surrounds Emma's tragic plight doesn't come across very well. The voice over doesn't really serve a point to the storytelling when it could have easily been said or shown, and that it is incorporated late and sparingly further gives it that notion. The story of the book is slow to begin with so it was not a bad thing for the adaptation to match the book's pacing. The thing is though the book's love scenes were passionate and there is also a lot of irony and bite. That the love scenes here were more coy than passionate(some of the chemistry looks uncomfortable), themes like the anti-clerical statements(quite savage ones at that) used in the book being excised and the writing having the poetry but not the irony made it not so easy to engage with and it all feels rather tame. The first half is often very ponderous and there is the sense that while the details are there what made the book so meaningful and shocking was lost. Overall, looks beautiful, skilfully directed and well-acted, but as a result of being too faithful emotionally and spirit-wise it felt cold and rather tame. The 2000 and 1949 also weren't as biting as the book, and they were nowhere near as faithful, but did have what this version didn't have. 6/10 Bethany Cox
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Even when a film tries to be as completely faithful as it can to the original source it can still end up lacking something that just doesn't transfer over to the big screen. There is definitely something missing here although it's hard to put a finger on it but it may be based on the way the story is presented. Story is about Emma (Isabelle Huppert) who lives with her father and dreams of a more exciting life and when she meets Dr. Charles Bovary (Jean-Francois Balmer) she looks at this as an opportunity for something different.

    *****SPOILER ALERT*****

    Emma marries Charles and at first she's happy but as time passes she becomes bored and loses interest in her husband but when he mentions the opportunity to move to a bigger town she agrees where he sets up a new practice. Emma and Charles have a daughter but this doesn't stop her from having affairs with Rodolphe (Christophe Malavoy) and Leon (Lucas Belvaux) and she also runs up a considerable debt with the hope that she will have run off with her lover before her husband finds out.

    This film is directed by Claude Chabrol who specializes in dramas about lust and greed and selfishness and one would think that he would be perfect to direct but truthfully he seems out of his realm with period pieces. This is the ninth version of the 1857 novel by Gustave Flaubert and Chabrol carefully follows the story faithfully and even shot his film in or near Rouen where Flaubert lived but even with all this the film comes across as mostly disconnected and cold. Huppert is arguably the best actress to come out of France in 20 years and she does have some poignant moments and scenes but she just might be to good to play an unfaithful dreamer because she's more adept at portraying more complicated characters. At times she swoons like Emma would in a romantic novel but it doesn't come across as believable even though Huppert generally makes this effort watchable. Chabrol gives us an Emma that is totally unsympathetic and that sounds interesting but it is hard to feel one way or another for her especially considering that this film runs for a solid 2 1/2 hours. If your a fan of Flaubert's novel or of Huppert than you might want to give this a viewing but for others this is probably just to long and emotionally distant to stay with although I personally can watch anything Huppert is in.
  • The story is slow, but so is the book.

    What made this movie for me a good reflection of the original, is Isabelle Huppert acting. I felt her joy, anticipation, misery and over-reactions. It honored the complexity of this character. One part of me wanted to like her and understand her. The casting of her husband was perfect, watching him annoyed me too. The other part wanted to shout "get on with it, woman." Next to the slowness, I disliked the casting of Rodolph because there wasn't a single moment that I liked him but there again, story-wise that wasn't such a bad element.

    Although one should mainly rate a movie on film merits, I can't help being a fashion lover. Next to Isabelle Huppert, my other main reason for the 8: the dress design is gorgeous.
  • Strangely anaemic version of Flauberts classic novel.This movie looks wonderful ,meticulously recreating a French country town in the mid-Nineteenth Centuary , but singularly fails to inject any life into its characters.

    The main problem is the normally excellent Isabelle Huppert's performance as the eponymous Madame B,not only does she fail to register any real emotion,far less do justice to the many facets of Flauberts creation,but at 39 ,she is,frankly, just tOo old for the role.

    The Film is also severely hampered by a leaden script that commits the cardinal sin of adapting a great novel,it employs the device of having a narrator read large chunks of the book.One would think that the 1974 Version of "The Great Gatsby" had amply demonstrated the folly of this approach.A voice-over reading portions of the source-novel is just not cinematic.

    The BBC's 2000 TV production was a much better attempt at capturing the atmosphere of the Novel as well as the complexities and contradictions of the central character.
  • In the Nineteenth Century, the widower countryside Doctor Charles Bovary (Jean-François Balmer) meets Emma Rouault (Isabelle Huppert), the spirited daughter Mr. Rouault (Jean-Claude Bouillaud) that is his patient and farmer, and sooner they get married to each other. They move to Tostes and sooner Emma feels bored with the simple lifestyle of her husband. Charles moves to Yonville to please his wife and she feels astonished with the ball of the Marquee. During an agricultural fair, Madame Bovary meets the womanizer Rodolphe Boulanger (Christophe Malavoy) that seduces her and they have a love affair.

    When her naive husband falls in disgrace after an unsuccessful surgery of the clubfoot Hippolyte (Florent Gibassier), Emma despises him. She meets Boulanger with more frequency and spends a large amount using the credit with the Merchant Lheureux (Jean-Louis Maury) expecting to leave Charles and travel with Boulanger to Rouen. However, her lover sends a letter to her ending their affair and travels alone.

    Emma gets ill and during her recovery, she travels with her husband to see an opera in Rouen, where she meets the young Leon Dupuis (Lucas Belvaux) that becomes her lover. When her debts with the trader Lheureux reaches eight thousand francs, Emma tries unsuccessfully to get a loan to avoid the execution of the pledge. Hopeless, she takes a dramatic ultimate decision.

    I had seen "Madame Bovary" by Claude Chabrol for the first time on 14 May 2000 and I found it a great version of the Gustave Flaubert's novel.

    However the magnificent original version of 1933 of the tragic romance "Madame Bovary" by Jean Renoir was released in Brazil a couple of years ago on DVD and I have recently seen it.

    Today I have just watched again the very well made 1991 version of "Madame Bovary" on DVD, but after watching the Jean Renoir's version, I found Chabrol's remake absolutely unnecessary since it does not add anything to the 1933 first version. My vote is seven.

    Title (Brazil): "Madame Bovary"
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Seeing a note on ICM that a poll for the best films of 1991 would be coming soon,I decided to look at what the output of New Wave auteur Claude Chabrol was from that year. Finding the last viewing of Chabrol departing from the Thriller (Alice or the Last Escapade) to be a fascinating creation,I was interested in seeing him take on the Costume Drama, (note:I've not read the original novel) which led to me meeting Madame Bovary.

    View on the film:

    Making the most visible attempt to depart from his signature stylisation, writer/directing auteur Claude Chabrol reunites with cinematographer Jean Rabier to breath in the elegance of the Costume Drama,sparkling in panning shots over the regal clothes and crumbing buildings surrounding Bovary. Rubbing in the dirt that covers the lives of the characters in darkness, Chabrol boils up a dour atmosphere from charcoal blacks engulfing the screen. Not shying away from taking on Gustave Flaubert's "unfilmable" book, Chabrol's adaptation struggles from the weight of its origins, with chances appearing for a study of the rural lower class,being just lightly touched upon by Chabrol firmly sticking to the original text. Staying as faithful as possible to the novel, Chabrol sadly strips a layer of depth from the visual element of the movie by an over-use of narration,which interrupts the cast putting the thoughts and feelings of the characters across. Reuniting with Chabrol,Isabelle Huppert gives an exquisite performance which tugs at the heartstring and pulls at the ill roots of weakness from Madame Bovary.
  • In nineteenth-century France, the romantic daughter of a country squire (Emma Rouault) marries a dull country doctor (Charles Bovary). To escape boredom, she throws herself into love affairs with a suave local landowner (Rodolphe Boulanger) and a law student (Leon Dupuis), and runs up ruinous debts. This film version closely follows Flaubert's novel and includes most of the famous scenes, such as the wedding, the ball, the agricultural fair, the operation on the clubfoot, and the opera in Rouen.

    "Madame Bovary" was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film as well as for the Academy Award for Costume Design. It was also entered into the 17th Moscow International Film Festival where Isabelle Huppert won the award for Best Actress. As she should.

    As with any great work of literature, this story has been adapted again and again. But I might have to say this is the definitive version, almost epic in its length and breadth, and a solid attempt to stay true to the novel. Typically I favor earlier in carnations, and by 1991 there were many... but this now is the one any future version must be measured against.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    At first glance, "Madame Bovary" may seem like an atypical project for Claude Chabrol: a costume drama with no murders at all (though there are a couple of deaths, plus an amputation!). But if you look closer, you can see that the meticulous production, the elegant camera work, the morally complex characters, the extramarital affairs, the methodically (and at times excessively) slow pacing, they are all characteristically Chabrolian. This film is not just based on a book, it feels like a book on the screen, with its linear, one-thing-after-the-other structure and the (unidentified) narrator commenting on the action from time to time. The exquisitely beautiful Isabelle Huppert gives us an intelligent take on the title character; the rest of the cast is fine. Not exactly an exciting movie, but a worthwhile and beautifully made one. **1/2 out of 4.
  • Isabelle Huppert plays the part very coldly, which makes the story more distant. She seems to view romantic sexual pleasure as something to be acquired instead of experienced. The medical scenes, however, are very well done and almost shocking in the staid context of the film's sensationless depiction of marital infidelity. Other Bovarys (Jennifer Jones and Frances O'Connor) have been much more sensual, whereas Isabel is pretty but it never seems that having sexual intercourse with her would be fun. Sorry to put it so crudely, but I always thought that sexual attraction was the point of the story, and also the source of its tragedy.
  • I am usually the most avid of Chabrol fans, but with Madame Bovary he finally made a real turkey. This film is dull dull dull. I probably could have abided the tediousness and the fastidious faithfulness to the book if the film had a lead actress who was even remotely credible in the lead. But Huppert is woefully miscast as Emma. Emma Bovary is supposed to be a passionate woman who recklessly throws herself into adulterous affairs. Huppert plays Emma as an ice princess, about as passionate as a bowl of oatmeal! Huppert achieves the astonishing feat of maintaining the same facial expression throughout the film; at times I wondered if her facial muscles were paralyzed. This would have been a perfect role for Isabel Adjani...too bad. Read the book instead.

    6/10
  • Madame Bovary enters an unhappy marriage to move up the social ladder. From here she indulges in a number of illicit affairs that leads to serious complications.

    First off I have to say that I don't really know anything about the novel from which this was adapted. From what I have briefly read it seems that it was considered unfilmable for some reason. Having seen this movie now, it does have to be said that it is a slightly odd costume-drama. Its story isn't especially romantic and it's not the most focused narrative overall. While I would say that Isabelle Huppert puts in a strong performance in the lead role, it's quite difficult really caring too much what happens to her. None of the characters in the film are particularly sympathetic. I guess the blame for this has to go to director Claude Chabrol. I have seen several of this director's movies from his late 60's early 70's heyday and have to consider myself a fan. All of those films were morally complex but contemporary stories. Madame Bovary shares some of the moral ambiguity but has an unfamiliar period setting. Chabrol directs the film in a somewhat cold manner, making it difficult to empathise with anyone. However, that said it's still a compelling film. The first half is pretty ponderous but it picks up steam in the second as the twists and turns in Madame Bovary's life are ramped up. So not classic Chabrol by any means but an interesting diversion all the same.
  • This movie was really deceptive to me. First, I wanted to watch it as I know that Isabelle Huppert and Claude Chabrol have amazing talents. After watching it, I thought that they both failed. I explain myself : Huppert is too pragmatic and cold to play this role. It seems like she plays every single scene as if she knew what kind of effect she will have on the people around. It's quite borrying. Emma Bovary is not Nana (from Zola's novel), she is someone who is not so interested in success, she is far more interested by passions. She is a woman living in dreams and thinking than life can be passionate as novels. I read the novel just a week before and I think that Flaubert describes well the fact that Emma Bovary is only interested in herself, in her feelings and in a "romanesque" conception of love. Huppert is far too pragmatic and not really romantic. Some scenes look "grotesque" as the one when after dancing with the Baron, she almost faints. It looks like Huppert uses a trick, which makes the scene look false. Moreover, she was probably too old to play the part of Emma Bovary (in the novel, Emma Bovary is twenty or thirty, surely not forty years old). Huppert got the part when she was almost forty and she looks too self-assured to play it well. For example, when she says to Rodolphe that she could have given her life for him, she bugles like mad woman though Emma is a passionate and really weak person. By never showing her weakness, Huppert don't find the good way to play this character.An actress like Anne Brochet or, Irène Jacob would have suited for the part perfectly (these two actresses look young enough). Isabelle Adjani would have probably been too passionate and not enough dreamy to play that part. Jeanne Balibar would have been great too. The other problem is in the way the movie is directed. The beginning of the story is all summed-up by Chabrol who doesn't show the fact that Emma Bovary and her husband Charles are far far different. The voice-over is not a great idea to explain that situation... and the fact that these scenes are so short make probably the actors play their part in a kind of caricature of themselves (which is the main problem of Huppert's interpretation). I think that Huppert and Chabrol were probably too confident to make that movie and that's probably why it can be so deceptive. The cinematography is not so intense and it looks like a movie made for TV. It could have been a quite good adaptation for a movie made for TV and released on a week evening but it's really not enough for a Cinema movie, made by two masters of Cinema.
  • I have no idea if Isabelle Huppert's Emma Bovary is a close relation to Gustave Flaubert's Emma Bovary. What I do know is that I was hugely moved by her. I felt actually like I was watching one of my close friends in a different incarnation. Emma's journey was poignant and fascinating. She seemed somewhat apart from the world, not inimical to it at all, but I guess recognising that her surroundings were somewhat arbitrary, and any role she had just that, a role. You would not exactly describe her as abundantly kind, but there seemed a complete absence of malice in her, a curiosity about life, without verging on recklessness, open-mindedness without verging on foolishness. She recognised the importance of duty without becoming a petit-bourgeois, brought up her daughter without blaming her despite her distaste for child rearing. It seemed her fate to not be satisfied for long, to be up and down, perhaps even what today we might call manic depression had a part to play. Her relationships never seemed satisfactory, and often she was wronged, particularly by Rodolphe. However I felt that she was restless enough that there would be no satisfaction. You know it's a great movie when it reminds you of someone you know, and the nuance sticks with you so long.

    There is also that being a romantic is a very dangerous thing to be if your powers of estimation of the other sex are faulty (I aim this comment at myself too!), or indeed if you conception of romance comes from fairy books.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Emma Rouault meets Charles Bovary, a country doctor, when he comes to set her father's broken leg. Emma, who is bored in her surroundings, sees the doctor as her escape from a life in a farm that holds no attractions in her view. She decides to marry the simple man and move away. Emma does not love Charles, as it becomes too apparently after they have settled in a small village.

    The prospect of attending a ball given by a local marquis, lets her see the gilded life of moneyed gentry she secretly craves. Unfortunately, it is short lived because no further socializing comes from that event. Moving to a bigger town near Rouen brings her in contact with Rudolphe Boulanger, a man that will awake in her longings she never knew she had. The affair, which runs hot and heavy does not last; Rudolphe has seen the danger in the involvement, so he leaves her.

    Emma discovers a different life in Rouen. Charles had taken her to the opera where she meets Leon Dupuis, who hails from Yonville. The attraction both feel about one another is mutual. Emma embarks in a double life in cheating Charles with the younger man. Extending herself in a lavish life comes back to haunt her, as merchant Lheureux comes to collect money she does not have. Emma finds herself against a wall and the only way out is to pay dearly for her bad judgment.

    Claude Chabrol's undertook the task to bring one of France's best loved novels to the screen. Gustave Flaubert's "Madame Bovary" is a classic that does not lend itself to the medium. Yet, Chabrol, a man that was a master in dealing with lust, suspense, and crime, proved he was on the right track on how to present this complex work in cinematic terms. If there was one thing in which Claude Chabrol excelled was in the way he was able to dissect a text and turn it into vivid images that played well as a film. Because of the limitations of the medium, its 143 minutes running time is just about right. Flaubert would have been pleased with the adaptation, but of course, it will not please everyone. "Madame Bovary" is one of those novels that stay with the reader forever.

    Casting Isabelle Huppert for the title role should have been an easy decision for the director. After all, Ms. Huppert collaborated extensively with him, and they had, what appears to be an easy relationship that worked well in the films where she was the main attraction. The film is worth a view because of the intensity Ms. Huppert brings to her Emma. The actress goes from boredom to passion with an amazing ease.

    Jean-Francois Balmer does justice to his Charles Bovary, a dull man in love with a woman that did not appreciate him. Christophe Malavoy is perfect as Rudolphe Boulanger. Jean Yanne and Lucas Belvaux also contribute to the success of the film.

    Jean Rabier's magnificent cinematography contribute to our enjoyment by showing the rural Normandy area where the film was shot in vivid detail. The incidental music is credited to Matthieu Chabrol, son of the director, working with Maurice Coignard and Jean-Michel Bernard.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    On paper Huppert plus Chabrol is an unbeatable parlay but several times it has run out of gas and this, alas, is no exception. Bizarrely Chabrol has opted to film a novel whose essence is tedium - Emma's ennui with the minutiae of day-to-day life is the key to her subsequent actions - by speeding up the pre-marriage sequences so that instead of the stately courtship that would be more apropos we get a scene with Charles Bovary asking her father for Emma's hand; an intermediate scene with Charles watching for the signal (the opening of a shutter) that will signify Emma's agreement and then (all this in less barely one minute of screen time) we cut to the wedding feast. True, Chabrol slows it down later - as well he might with two and a half hours to play with - but the contrast tends to be off-putting. In its favour are the fine sense of period, costumes, decor, etc and though woefully miscast Huppert doesn't do mediocre and remains watchable in anything but overall one is left with the impression of a fine opportunity squandered.
  • Madame Bovary is one of those period pieces one can only really describe as "competant" when one is offering their most glowing of assessments, a film with a sense of the grandiose and extravagant but somehow managing to feel restrained and stiff; a film with the feeling that there is something inherently important at the centre of it all, without there actually being anything too drastic to actually get wound up about. The piece, somewhat needlessly narrated throughout, is a sturdy but patchy French period drama; a film about reasonably unlikeable characters in a time rich in both extravagance and high-culture dressing profligately and feeling sorry for themselves; unlikeable characters having affairs and rather a bit of sex on top of living rich, dainty lives. Few of the performers in the film seem all that interested, and the film is stiltedly directed; one character worth their weight is that of an aide to a predominantly featured doctor – a bubbly, enthusiastic presence and the only individual with a bit of life about them. The rest of it, a piece made by that of Claude Chabrol and adapted from a certain Gustave Flaubert novel, just about lives up to its historical eminence and the weighty directorial name who's behind it, in what is an engaging enough, although-often-unsure-of-itself drama with pretensions to be a mental health awareness piece generally uneasily gluing together.

    The film follows Isabelle Huppert's Emma, a young French girl initially living alone in the 19th Century with her father on his farm and under some rather basic conditions. Through a great deal of physical pain and bother that one man must suffer through comes the catalyst which eventually leads to further great amounts of pain and bother - this time of a psychological sort and shouldering itself with a woman. The man in initial pain is Emma's father, who badly injures himself whilst drunk and is forced into being bed-ridden on account of a broken leg as a very specific doctor comes to visit and offer assessment. We sense Emma is frustrated at living with such a man, her father; his lying there on the bed as the doctor, Charles Bovary (Balmer), tends to him we sense is the father at the most static he has been in quite a while. Emma appears interested in Bovary, their exchange of glances and the manner in which she sucks a wound derived from sewing is highly suggestive of a desire, at least on her behalf, of perhaps furthering something.

    In spite of his careful and highly astute nature in both his demeanour and profession, something which clashes with her farm-hand lifestyle and alluded-to rebellious streak of times gone by when she once toyed with the realities of her health at a convent, they hook up. As the title would suggest, something does indeed spawn out of this chance encounter; Emma becoming the titular Madame Bovary in marrying Charles, himself a widower and easy-going guy, before moving in with him and his practise in a far-off town. What transpires from here appears to be a film trying to tackle the nihilist realities of life; a drama covering the exploits of a woman whom disliked the nature of what her life was from the stage of being a juvenile to that of a young adult before reaching the conclusion that her life, or polarised existence, is just as crummy in amidst the operas; grand balls and social interaction with 19th Century northern France's elite.

    There just isn't pleasing some people - or is there? The film alludes to the lead suffering from some sort of illness; some sort of depression, perhaps born with it – perhaps not, perhaps always destined to be unhappy at whatever her surroundings generally consisted of and with whom she lived. Boredom gives way to lust within the echelons of Emma's head, the dancing with an anonymous younger man at one of those fancy private functions, after it's established she is unamused by the nature of the thing, sees her immediately pick up hinting to an unabashed desire to perhaps step out of her marital bubble. Such a characteristic becomes more inherently real when the Bovary's up-camp and move to another town-plus-practise so that Charles may expand his repertoire.

    With their marriage already on the rocks, Emma meets a cocksure landowner named Rodolphe (Malavoy); a character confirming earlier ponderings on whether Emma would step out of wedlock to sleep with another man. It would appear the two of them enjoy a passionate enough relationship, but a scene in a grassy field underneath a tree in which Rodolphe verbally establishes his desire to tame her sexual lustings he's pretty sure she possess ought to be though processes or minor exchanges established visually, and with some sort of urgent flare rather than have a static character reiterate what his, or her, thoughts are. In spite of veering nearer a pretence that it is to explore the diminishing mental well-being of a woman as well as her ill-advised desires to explore sexual awakenings, the film actually shies away from any brash, confrontative content of that nature; as if willing to mention such adult subject matter but too timid to go the distance and properly depict the character slip away and into this newfound lifestyle (brought about by whatever) of smut and sleaze in a fashion that a film like Polanski's 1992 film Bitter Moon did not fall foul of. Madame Bovary is not a total loss - there are fair degrees of drama and peril to be had out of certain scenes but her tragic, seemingly restrained, inhibition to share her problems or issues with her fellow characters arrives in sync with the film's evident annoyances not to not head down a specific route and depict a woman in a stone-wall state. It is prim and proper whilst professionally put together, but it lacks a cutting dynamic which tells us that we should be caring more than we are.
  • I've seen two now, the first is the latest version, I think it came out last year or so, this one Ebert really liked and in whose performance he just could not cease the ongoing praise , even comparing this one to another one she did, and on and on...

    Yes , this lady did a hell of a job! But in doing so, I so tagged her a mega- B****! lol... especially against her husband who seemed like a really sweet gent; what I love best about their relationship is the contradistinction of both especially when they are together , and it never fails that our greatest weakness is also our greatest strength, but here rather, we are at both ends of the spectrum, his strengths lie in his modesty and tender heart , his sincere love of his wife but yet is very dull. And on the other side is his gorgeous wife a dynamo waiting to explode when and if someone turns her on! But dang, what a a shmega C****!

    But what are you going to do, I just love this tale like Ebert says , she is running from something inly and this tear can never be fused back togetehr again with any and all things of the world, very very cool tale.

    I highly recommend it. So far both share an intrinsic melancholy woven into the warp and woof of the tale that takes its prepossessing force and builds a atmosphere of desperation entwined with a universal despair that very much so underscores the all consuming fear of our natural inherent universal human condition; and that is why it is also very fierce in all its horror; that we can all be consumed with passion and love and joy and the next, bathos...
  • According to French documentaries on the subject, Director Claude Chabrol did his utmost to stay true to Gustave Flaubert's novel. He saw Isabelle Hupert as the perfect fit for Madame B, and everything else apparently fell in place after that. Therein lies my first qualm: Hupert is not as plain as Madame B is supposed to be. Balmer is suitable as the shy, insecure rural doctor she marries. The rest of the cast is good enough, with Madame B's first lover particularly convincing.

    A voiceover is introduced to link different times in the story, a trick which, I think, did not come off very well. Still, Chabrol's direction is sound, by and large, and photography is a big plus, as are the costumes and period recreation. He manages to convey the disappointment Madame B feels when she realizes that all her loves run for cover when she needs them, and only the husband she despises stays with her to the end.

    It is a powerful novel and a great psychological study, but, as much as CC tries to remain faithful to Flaubert's literary masterpiece, he allows narrative to run adrift at times, making for an uneven film -- but one which is worth watching at least once.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Chabrol , as usual, gives us the best of his science! From the Flaubert's novel we can see Isabelle Huppert Madame Bovary)to go deep into an irreversible misfortune until to commit his own suicide . Alle the characters play like the long and difficult art of Flaubert's art
  • kekca6 August 2013
    Warning: Spoilers
    It is a high valuation for this movie but I give it because of the novel of Gustave Flaubert. From now on I am talking about the novel and the parts which one can see in the movie or about their cross-points.

    The rise of the street business, cafeterias, agents, notary, private spaces and thoughts, secrets and frauds, modernization, science, fragmentary ethics and the fall of moral, religion, the ordinary, trivial, village life. If you want. The point from where Socrates and Voltaire felt their power of being free and their weakness of losing their goal. So, the fall of the fundamental and traditional. The question and now what? And the answer - where I am at this moment.

    In conclusion, if you do not want to read the book - then watch the movie.

    http://vihrenmitevmovies.blogspot.com/
  • not great, not bad but interesting. a correct film without the emotions of novel. a film in which lead actor is atmosphere. but it is not always credible. sure, after reading the book, it is easy to criticize. but the problem is the difficulty to create desire to discover Flaubert masterpiece. it is a sad story but it has so many sparkles of emotions, joy and hope. or the impression is to admire a funeral mask. Chabrol good intentions are obvious but it is not enough. Huppert does a wry role and the film seems be only a theater play. Madame Bovary is a cold shadow, ice statue, hologram. it is a beautiful, yet. but its beauty is more result of memories about novel. an adaptation. not great, not bad, correct but not convincing.