Soon after the death of his first wife (whose dowry was inadequate), Charles Bovary, a country doctor in Normandy, marries Emma Rouault, who is well-endowed in every sense. In her new home,... See full summary »
Soon after the death of his first wife (whose dowry was inadequate), Charles Bovary, a country doctor in Normandy, marries Emma Rouault, who is well-endowed in every sense. In her new home, Emma finds conflict with her mother-in-law, a husband uninterested in the social whirl, and general discontentment; thereby proving an easy conquest for philanderer Rodolphe. Other lovers follow. Does tragedy await? Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
I used to favor Minnelli's version over Renoir's .Not anymore .The only thing which works better in the American version is the actress.Jennifer Jones is par excellence the romantic heroine ,the passionate dreamer and she's beautiful.Valentine Tessier,Renoir's lead is not attractive at all and I would go as far as to write she makes a nice pair with her unfortunate hubby (Pierre Renoir,excellent).Artistically,Tessier has moments of great acting,notably the scene in front of the church with the priest where she gives a very modern portrayal -she looks as if she 's in search of a shrink-.But physically she cannot be a romantic tragic dreamer.And, most of the time,she seems to be on a stage.
But all that surrounds Tessier is much better than Minelli's too hollywoodian adaptation.Only a French director can feel the atmosphere of a small town of Normandy,only a French director can recreate the moist landscapes of the land of the apple trees,only a French director can recreate an agriculture meeting with its awards: the scene where an old lady is awarded a medal after 54 (!) years of hard labor on the farms (a decoration which she intends to give to the vicar who in turn will celebrate a mass for her) represents all the poverty of the world and time :it's in Flaubert's book and Renoir at this stage of his career -he was at his most anarchist ,see "la Chienne" and "Boudu"- had to include it in his film.
Renoir ,better than Minnelli,understood this hatred Emma felt for the provinces.Born on a farm,she dreamed away her childhood and adolescence.Neither Minnelli,nor Renoir have depicted the wedding and it is a pity : this vulgar country celebration with its rude peasants epitomizes all that Emma despises,she who is still dreaming of a Prince Charming who will take her away.And when the Prince appears (Her lover Rodolphe Boulanger) he will betray her.
The scene of the ball in an aristocratic castle is the pivot of both the novel and the film:afterward ,Emma will never be the same.Had she inherited from some distant relative,she would have been saved .But living shut away in her own small town,in the company of a meek less-than-handsome man and some petit bourgeois such as Homais ,her only hope is to be carried off by her lover....
But her lover ,Rodolphe Boulanger,is a wealthy selfish buck:the scene in the luxury house ,where Emma begs 8,000 Francs is similar in the two versions ,although in that one,Minnelli has the upper hand ,cause his actors (Jones and Louis Jourdan) are more convincing.
Chabrol's work starring Isabelle Huppert is eminently forgettable.
10 of 11 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?