‘Madame Bovary’ Review: Sophie Barthes Takes on Flaubert

While the world isn’t far removed from the sci-fi fantasy of his 2009 debut, “Cold Souls,” director Sophie Barthes’ take on “Madame Bovary” also features a easy intelligence in leadership. Eaten and restrained rather than intense or serious, this adaptation of a bad film story strives hard to capture the complex provincial world that Flaubert was able to describe in vivid and intricate detail on the page. . If the slow end is not a Herculean feat, there are good rewards in Barthes’ beautiful visual sense (aided by Andrij Parekh’s wide shots) and some bad performance from Mia Wasikowska in the title role. After its Telluride and Toronto locations, this classy area deserves a well-known gallery niche.

While Flaubert’s original argument is lacking in TV and film adaptations (such as Vincente Minnelli’s 1949 version and Claude Chabrol’s 1991 film with Isabelle Huppert), Barthe’s film claims that he the first to be directed by a woman – the hook is savvy enough for this proto-feminist literary heroine. To put too much emphasis on the gender of the translator, of course, is to ignore one of the most important contributions of “Madame Bovary” itself, and the patience and sensitivity of Barthe’s approach is not necessary. type of information. Instead of an internal monologue that provides a simple summary of Emma’s feelings, the filmmaker prefers a lucid, enveloping style that relies on intimate actors, soothing voices and mise-en-scene pressure to tell the story.

That story is a famous story that requires all kinds of story reduction to fit into a two-hour plot, something the film allows for by first joining Emma Bovary (Wasikowska) close to the result of his sufferings, racing over beauty. the forest with a bottle of alcohol clutched in his hand. From there the novel (co-written by Barthes and producer Felipe Marino) traces Emma’s upbringing in the church and her loveless marriage to the eccentric doctor, Charles Bovary (Henry Lloyd-Hughes), where he lived in a small house. French town of Yonville. The camera focuses on Emma’s shocked face in these first scenes as she slowly takes in all the details of her life – the trash, the empty rooms, the overgrown garden, the husband without thinking or wanting. to improve their condition – and he knows he wants it. .

In the beginning, Emma resists the temptations that fly her way, first in the form of the merchant Monsieur Lheureux (a fake Rhys Ifans), who sells all kinds of fine silks and bric-a-brac, then in the darkly beautiful form of Leon (Ezra Miller, “We need to talk about Kevin”), a young law student who immediately expresses his love for Madame Bovary. But when he quietly rejects her, Leon moves to continue his studies in Rouen, a city of culture and prosperity, for Emma, ​​takes on a talismanic character. And when she finds herself more strongly pursued by another man, the handsome and worldly Marquis d’Andervilliers (a louche Logan Marshall-Green), this time she gives in to her desires, with hesitation at first, but with great abandon.

As Emma pursues her lovers and revives the Bovary manse with equal vigor (in this telling, at the time of the recording, she remains childless), viewers may find themselves remembering to 2011’s “Jane Eyre,” an unexpected take on the 19th-century costume drama from Sundance. -released filmmaker (ie Cary Joji Fukunaga’s “Sin nombre” hit Park City the same year as “Cold Souls”). The most common of the two changes is, of course, Wasikowska, whose inability to judge the viewer’s love suits her here. Few actors are better at creating a natural air of happiness, and Barthes allowed a lot of drama to play on the face of his star – in the hopeful smile he allowed to when Charles agreed to do a professional job on a club-footed young man. , Hippolyte (Luke Tittensor), and the disgust and hatred he experiences when surgery goes predictably, horribly awry.

Although Emma’s inner landscape enters into danger, in the climactic scenes the director turns a little and charges again with overstatement, Barthes and Wasikowska avoid the mistake of trying. to pin him down in every sense, and their understanding of the character is inappropriate: We’ Always know that Madame Bovary does not belong to Leon or the Marquis (which can be changed well in the height of adultery), or to secure the riches and splendor he had accepted from Lheureux. His true desire is for self-interest, for anything that promises an escape from the harsh laws and conventions that govern his chaotic world.

Her situation is better, of course – a point that Barthes drives home with a long shot of Emma passing three peasant women on her way, or showing love to Hippolyte, now better off as an amputee. The emphasis on visual storytelling is evident in the film’s most dramatic scene, a hunting party thrown by the Marquis, to which Barthes lends his natural imagery and piano-heavy score of the film (created by Evgueni and Sacha Galperine) will put a. the feeling of dread. The sign may be heavy handed, but still good.

The decision to have the actors speak English in their natural accents – most notably in the case of Paul Giamatti (who appeared in “Cold Souls”) as a pharmacist known as Monsieur Homais, a character whose views are unpredictable – he is one of the Few options here against the unimpeachable truth that Flaubert is known for, in his intense search for “le mot juste. ” In all other respects, the period stylings of the film are excellent, from Benoit Barouh’s mostly prophetic design, sometimes to the daring ball gowns favored by the costume designer Valerie Ranchoux. Best of all is Parekh’s earthy 35mm lensing; switching between precise compositions and careful steady camera movement, the dp uses natural light, whether it’s coming from a golden lamp or streaming through a door wind

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