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>
Although the opening shot makes good use of mobile framing, most of the film has a more tableau feel. The sweeping pans are more tied to character psychology based on their habit of reframing and thus constructing psychological space. Angular shots (convo with clergy, faint outside window) further a sense of transcendental subject positions arranged for identification with character psychological effects. The exteriors are picturesque and painterly especially through naturalist oblique staging. There is a great depth of field and camera positions are arranged with obstructions in the mise-en-scene lending to the sense of an unobtrusive apparatus. The alternating shot scales within a scene are traditional and like Carrefour one gets a sense that this Renoir film is a hybrid of stylistic systems. Problems are compounded in this regard not simply through the film being an adaptation of Flaubert's work but also through Emma's character being so close in characterization to what we know of Dedee (Catherine Hessling). I imagine that Renoir was torn during the production of Madame Bovary. On one hand he may have felt that expressing his personal life through an adaptation that was conducive for such sentiment had a cathartic effect while on the other hand he was marring the development of his stylistics and not adequately purveying an even approach to character portrayal. The effect is that the spectator is neither fully engaged nor fully bored - creating an awkward wishy-washy response. This is not Renoir's most profound film.
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