I AM NOT MADAME BOVARY, Feng Xiaogang’s Acerbic Civil Service Satire

As its title suggests, Feng Xiaogang is a brutal business I am not Madame Bovary Flaubert’s adulterous heroine has no direct connection. However, Madame Bovary shares some common characteristics with Pan Jinlian, the 17th century Chinese legend referred to in the film’s original title, who is cuckolded and then plots to kill her husband. .

Directed by Liu Zhenyun, Feng’s frequent collaborator from his 2012 self-titled novel, the film follows Li Xuelian’s (played by Fan Bingbing) desperate efforts to reverse her divorce from Qin Yuhe (Li Zonghan). For about 10 years, Lian has worked in China’s public civil service, from provincial magistrates to county chiefs, to mayors and the chairman of the National People’s Congress in Beijing.

On the other hand, I am not Madame Bovary It’s a painful picture of how small a person can be, when faced with a bureaucratic behemoth like the People’s Republic of China. Often branded a “farmer” by those in power, Lian was shuttled from one office to another, with no one showing the slightest interest in looking into his case or listening to him. . As the film progresses, Lian repeatedly falls for the tricks of other men, be it her ex-husband, distant relative Wang (Dong Chengpeng) or Datou (Gou Tao).

On the other hand, Feng often portrays the film as an irresponsible overthrow of the government. While Lian may think she’s getting nowhere with her case, the authorities are more than afraid of her. When Lian takes his case to Beijing, and throws himself in front of the President’s car, he catches the attention of one of the country’s most powerful figures. A little thing like a divorce case could come near him seeing a lot of clothes and shots flowing between the rows faster and faster. better than the case of Lian who tried to move aside.


Fan Bingbing is seen everywhere in the film, and her role is patient, selfless and determined. Betrayed by the man she loves, she is called “Pan Jinlian” – adulterous and murderous – until her anger leads her to consider murder, not only by her husband, but by a string of judges and authorities who did not help. to him. What could have been a gruesome and terrifying story is greatly aided by Feng’s acerbic writing. Not only does Fan play Lian as an important character, facing an important, close-knit group of men, but the growing anxiety and fear that spreads through the Party gives in the works an air of comforting levity, which removes everything from Terry Gilliam’s. Brazil this summer Shin Godzilla at work.

Which brings us to the highlight of the movie, shot by Luo Pan who watched it last year. mr. Six, in which Feng played the title role. Following a trend from filmmakers like Wes Anderson and Xavier Dolan, Luo and Feng refuse to use a standard ratio. For the most part, I am not Madame Bovary seen in the right circular picture, only moving to a near-parallel when the drama comes to Beijing.

While the practical reasons for this are left for us to decipher ourselves, the circular image enhances Lian’s sense of being trapped in a vicious circle of bureaucratic bureaucracy. It is only in the final sequence of the film that Feng opens up his image to use the full image, which compares to the display on the screen in ways that will not be mentioned here. Even more criticized is the magical beauty of Luo’s photography. The film is often reminiscent of traditional Chinese images of idyllic lakes, trees and bridges captured on porcelain bowls or vases.

Even though the plot of the movie doesn’t ring true, the journey there is very interesting. It’s undeniably long but it’s amazing to look at – not to mention laugh out loud – I am not Madame Bovary It’s a shocking display of a political system, and the country as a whole, that is ready to serve its state employees before the public. Not to mention revealing the wealth divide that separates millions of Chinese citizens from those who are supposed to improve their lives.

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