London Film Festival: Madame Bovary

Directed by Sophie Barthes
Starring Mia Wasikowska, Ezra Miller, Rhys Ifans, Paul Giamatti and Laura Carmichael

by Joanna Orland

Director Sophie Barthes has provided the world with yet another adaptation of the timeless classic Madame Bovary. Based on the Gustave Flaubert novel, Madame Bovary is the plight of a young married woman as she suffers from boredom and engages in extra-marital affairs and consumerism.

Taking inspiration from Andrea Arnold’s 2011 adaptation of another classic, Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, Barthes sets her film in a rural landscape with lingering shots of the environment and ambient sound to flatter the visuals. Where Arnold’s use of such scenery creates a dreamlike atmosphere, Barthes under-uses this technique to create merely a dull ambience. Now this could either be that the mood of the film is merely dull, or the dullness of the ambience mirrors the boredom that Madame Bovary is feeling in her daily mundane life. Either way, this film is overall dull, but the character of Madame Bovary is an empathetic one in the hands of the always excellent Mia Wasikowska.

Wasikowska is a younger, childless version of Bovary in Barthes’ adaptation. She carries the role with ease and is mesmerizing on screen. The only shining light in this otherwise dim tale. Ezra Miller seems very out of place as a love interest to Madame Bovary. He is very ill-suited to this film. The rest of the cast is filled out nicely with Rhys Ifans and Paul Giamatti among others, but all feel very under utilized.

Overall, this is a technically fine film with a strong lead performance. The mundane boredom that Madame Bovary feels in her life mirrors the feeling that the audience has from watching this film. A solid effort, but soulless in its failed execution.

Madame Bovary: Mia WasikowskaMia Wasikowska discusses Madame Bovary

Madame Bovary: Luke TittensorLuke Tittensor on playing a character with a club foot

Madame Bovary: Sophie BarthesDirector Sophie Barthes on adapting Madame Bovary

One Response to “London Film Festival: Madame Bovary”

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