Madame Bovary (1991)

PG-13  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  25 December 1991 (USA)
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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 ... See full summary »



(based on the novel by), (adaptation)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jean-François Balmer ...
Christophe Malavoy ...
Christiane Minazzoli ...
La veuve Lefançois
Jean-Louis Maury ...
Florent Gibassier ...
Jean-Claude Bouillaud ...
Le père Rouault - un paysan - le père d'Emma
Sabeline Campo ...
Yves Verhoeven ...
Marie Mergey ...
La mère Bovary - la mère de Charles
François Maistre ...
Le vicomte
Phillippe Abitol


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. Written by English Showalter <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Romance


PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

25 December 1991 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Мадам Бовари  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$1,942,424 (USA)

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


In its original French version, one of the masculine voices overheard by Emma during the great Bail sequence is director Claude Chabrol's voice saying: "Mais qu'il en soit fait selon votre desir, ma chere... Lucien!". See more »


During the ball, the music is "The Blue Danube" by Johan Strauss, composed in 1866. However, the action is taking place in 1837. See more »


Le docteur Charles Bovary: [after his wife's death] Fate's the one to blame!
See more »


Version of Madame Bovary (1937) See more »


Alexander Quadrille, op 33
Music by Johann Strauss (as J. Strauss)
See more »

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User Reviews

Didn't quite resonate with me emotionally, but aesthetically beautiful and well acted
28 January 2014 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

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

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It is pointless to make this novel into a film phil_manic
Rodolphe or Leon had really loved Bovary? malta54
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