Her main quality, however, and what makes this adaptation a success, is her refusal of sentimentality. Although Félicité goes through misfortune after misfortune, "Un Coeur simple" has nothing of a tear jerker. Marion Laine's touch is sharp, her vision of the rural reality in nineteenth century Normandy naturalistic and documentary-like and her sympathy for Félicité restrained. Which does not mean that this is a cold movie. On the contrary, the unfairness of Félicité's lot is so obvious that it needn't be intensified. Pathetic violins and sniveling would be redundant whereas soberness, by contrast, does reinforce the impact of Flaubert's sad story.
Sandrine Bonnaire is literally possessed with her role, a simple woman gifted for life, but prevented by unfavorable circumstances to give free rein to her bursts of passion or tenderness. Marina Foïs, her exact opposite, as repressed in this context as she is naturally exuberant, is frightening as Madame Aubain, who misses out on real life.