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Martin, an ex-Parisian well-heeled hipster passionate about Gustave Flaubert who settled into a Norman village as a baker, sees an English couple moving into a small farm nearby. Not only are the names of the new arrivals Gemma and Charles Bovery, but their behavior also seems to be inspired by Flaubert's heroes.Written by
Toronto International Film Festival
Gemma Bovery is a movie based on Flaubert's Madame Bovary, but modernised and very meta as Gemma Bovery seems, according to the narrator, bound to follow the same path as the novel's central character. Starring Gemma Arterton as Gemma Bovery, it's easy to see why her neighbour, the village baker and the film's narrator, becomes completely besotted with her. She's radiant and effortlessly sexy from the moment we first encounter Gemma and her husband, played by Jason Flemyng, as they arrive at their new home in a small Normandy village. Soon, she is well acquainted by the locals, especially her neighbour, as played by Fabrice Luchini, who can't seem to think about much else other than this beautiful girl who seems to have come straight out of the pages of his favourite novel. With less assured direction and an actor without the affable qualities of Luchini, his gazes upon Gemma and longing monologues may seem quite creepy, but this is a romantic who acts more than ably as an audience surrogate for the events in this small hamlet. Gemma, like the Madame Bovary of the novel, succumbs to temptation and enters into an affair with a young man studying at his parents' house nearby, which causes much concern for her neighbour, who sees parallels between her and her fictional namesake. Which may not make for high drama, but I found this movie incredibly charming and easy to fall for, much like the gorgeous and talented Arterton who, in one particular scene, does for kneading bread what Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore done for pottery in Ghost. Arterton also plays her character just right, because this isn't a woman scorned or downtrodden. She knows her own mind and has depths that are slowly revealed. In the wrong hands she may have been quite unlikable, but here, despite her mistakes, she's always endearing. As is the bucolic plenty of the Parisian countryside. It's only in the movie's final moments that it plays a sour note that seems unnecessary, whilst an obscure ending shifts the tone just too far. But this is a bit of a treat and a genuine surprise.
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