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|Index||18 reviews in total|
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.
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.
*** This review may contain 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.
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.
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"
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.
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
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.
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
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 to 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.
*** This review may contain 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.
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.
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.
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