Watch: ‘Madame Bovary’ Features Mia Wasikowska as a notorious prostitute

“Madame Bovary, c’est moi,” said Gustave Flaubert of his most famous literary work. Angry, foolish and sometimes cruel, he is not the most romantic character in 19th-century literature, but he is among the most intense and difficult. Flaubert sheds light on his inner life and external situations with clarity to set a new standard for fiction, which continues to deceive, and often annoys his followers.

credit…Alchemy/Millennium Entertainment

And filmmakers. “Madame Bovary” can be cited as an example of the disparity between movies and books. The film has not yet recorded the format and the plot of the story. The directors and actors were not afraid. There have been at least half a dozen releases in various languages ​​and formats since the beginning of the sound era. Jennifer Jones and Vincente Minnelli became the turning point in the golden age of Hollywood prestige mongering. Isabelle Huppert and Claude Chabrol tried it in the early 90s. Now the French director Sophie Barthes has created a glorified English version, with Mia Wasikowska as the most famous prostitute in Normandy.

The movie isn’t particularly good: It’s a B+ character sheet that looks right at the costume-drama tropes of the post-Merchant Ivory era. The men in Emma Bovary’s life are reduced to their caricatured characters, and are played with dignity by actors who have the means to appear in better films than it. Henry Lloyd-Hughes is Charles Bovary, the evil and good country doctor who marries Emma Rouault after leaving the convent school. Paul Giamatti is Monsieur Homais, the arrogant doctor whose big ideas about success cause problems. Rhys Ifans is Monsieur Lheureux, the merchant whose flattery of Emma’s tastes and social expectations leads him and Charles into disastrous debt. Ezra Miller and Logan Marshall-Green portray his other interests, one a quasi-intellectual lover, the other a moody, hunky aristocrat.

As the film progresses, it explores Emma’s growing boredom, her mindless adventures and her eventual demise. It would probably end Flaubert’s story to discover that he is dead at the end, but Ms. This is a shortcut to the ideas that the film does little, and it also changes the implacable, deliberate linearity of Flaubert’s story.

If not, the film will stick to its premise, which is an exception to the overarching sense of disbelief in the story. What is wild in this “Madame Bovary” for Ms. Wasikowska, an actress who is more interesting than her characters. She was very good as Jane Eyre in 2011, and among young actresses with a habit of playing 19th-century literary heroines – Keira Knightley and Carey Mulligan, for example – he has a special gift for making his pictures at once contemporary and old-fashioned. their own time, decide to act independently in situations that require them.

credit…Alchemy/Millennium Entertainment

The movie Ms. Barthes, unfortunately, is what Charles’s family sees Emma as: a stable of morals and ideals. It is not hard to believe that Ms. Wasikowska is Madame Bovary – she is serious and shallow, unwilling and gullible, strong and helpless – but this “Madame Bovary” is not necessary.

“Madame Bovary” is rated R (Under 17 requires parent or guardian). The acts of love.

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