R  |  118 min  |  Drama
Review - Matt Mungle


Synopsis: Set in Normandy, France, Madame Bovary is Gustave Flaubert's classic story of Emma Bovary (Mia Wasikowska), a young beauty who impulsively marries small-town doctor, Charles Bovary (Henry Lloyd-Hughes), to leave her father's pig farm far behind. But after being introduced to the glamorous world of high society, she soon becomes bored with her stodgy husband and mundane life, and seeks prestige and excitement outside the bonds of marriage.

Review: Wasikowska has spent much of her career wearing a corset and period dress. Here she has perfected the mannerisms and frail demeanor while keeping a strong inner strength and brooding eye. Her character is one of horrible ill content and Mia drapes herself in it like a fine veil. She pouts and fusses her way through this one well enough; her physical emoting outshining the moments of dialogue. Luckily she is immersed in this well crafted story and surrounded by a noble cast. These elements help her to rise above and succeed in the title role.

The story was written in the mid 1800's by Gustave Flaubert and immediately met with scandal and outrage. This of course helped catapult it to instant notoriety.  This current rendition captures the area of northern France perfectly. The style and cinematography are exquisite. The costume design is a character all its own and deserves recognition. Period pieces are not rare and can be hit or miss. This one hits more than it misses. Some may say it is hard to mess up a story that is as solid as this so granted it is the character of Emma that pulls you in and keeps you engaged.

Henry Lloyd-Hughes, Paul Giamatti, and Rhys Ifans lead the pack of supporting actors. Each is spot on and more than capable of bringing the conversations and personalities of that era to life. Ezra Miller and Logan Marshall-Green play the love interests of Emma. They are there mainly as a rung for her to advance and serve the purpose. For those who would never consider cracking the spine of the book this is a wonderful way to meet and experience Flaubert's characters.

The self inflicted tragedy of Emma's world is very dramatic and you can't help but pity and ridicule her at the same time. She is a young woman caught up in a world she has envisioned from a young age. The Marquis sums up Emma perfectly when he tells her, "you are standing under an apple tree wanting to smell oranges." It is a destructive nature that comes from never being satisfied or content.

Madame Bovary is rated R for some sexuality/nudity. They could have altered the camera angle in a few scenes and gotten by with a PG-13. There is no harsh language or violent content and the themes, though adult, are handled with a  1800's sophistication. I give it 3.75 out of 5 fine linens. I am a big fan of Mia Wasikowska but often wondered if she bit off a bit more than she could chew in this one. Though capturing the spirit of Emma I am not sure she had complete control of the dialogue.

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