A provincial doctor's wife's romantic illusions about life and social status lead her to betray her naive husband, take on lovers, and run up ruinous debts.A provincial doctor's wife's romantic illusions about life and social status lead her to betray her naive husband, take on lovers, and run up ruinous debts.A provincial doctor's wife's romantic illusions about life and social status lead her to betray her naive husband, take on lovers, and run up ruinous debts.
Flaubert revisited by Hollywood.
Three versions stand out as far as Flaubert's classic is concerned:the Jean Renoir one,with Valentine Tessier,which has not worn well,the acting has become unconvincing and almost lurid when you see it today,Minelli's version and Claude Chabrol's starring Isabelle Huppert ,which doesn't avoid totally academism,despite Jean-François Balmer's portrayal of Charles that steals the show . Now for Minelli 's attempt:some have been hard on his rendition,and however,it features the best Emma ever:Jennifer Jones,the romantic heroine par excellence.Her savage beauty,looking tense,triumphs here. The supporting acts are well-chosen:Van Heflin is oafish,meek.The French Louis Jourdan is well-cast as Rodolphe Boulanger,Emma's lover who betrays her and leaves her to despair.Their final confrontation,in Boulanger's luxury mansion oozes hatred and contempt. The main drawback is the rural background:Minelli did not realize how this country life disgusted Emma:the wedding,a very very peasant one ,which Flaubert describes in lavish detail,is too short on the screen.The farms are too clean-Emma dreamed her childhood away because she could not stand the mediocrity of her milieu.She jumped out of the frying pan into the fire:a two-bit doctor,a would-be sawbones who 's totally incompetent.Van Heflin's rendering makes up for Minelli's weaknesses.The movie is sandwiched between two brief scenes of Flaubert 's trial (He was accused of immorality in his book),that's redundant.It would have been better to tell the audience about Emma's daughter's terrible fate:after the doctor's death,an orphan,she becomes a worker in a spinning mill.Supreme decay for a mother who was longing to be a socialite.
- Aug 1, 2001
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