After watching the Sophie Barthes directed, Mia Wasikowska led version of Madame Bovary and finding myself displeased with it, I ended up watching another version of the tale that also happened to come out in the US in 2015. Gemma Bovary is a much less straightforward adaptation of the 19th century novel as it takes on a contemporary setting and a third person point of view on the events. Despite all of these changes, though, the end product is very similar. Gemma Bovary is a dull tale of finding true love at perilous costs that barely survives thanks to a charming performance from Gemma Arterton.
Gemma Bovary follows a French baker (Fabrice Luchini) as he begins to notice many similarities between the main character in Madame Bovary and one of his new neighbors (Gemma Arterton). Despite arguments from his wife (isabelle Candelier) he sets out to stop a series of terrible events that he thinks are doomed to destroy the life of the young woman. The film is based off of a graphic novel, and unfortunately this film does not have the usual flash that many comic book adaptations tend to have. Visually, the film adapts a bright palette, but doesn’t do much with it. Additionally, the film has an even worse sense of world building than its cousin film from earlier this year. All this film ends up seeming like is a boring rom-com without a good enough story to survive on its own.
Fortunately, the film has a very game cast. Gemma Arterton is quite stunning in a role that suits her very well. The role certainly builds off of her physical attractiveness, but it also plays quite well off of her natural charm. It’s very much a similar role to her work on Tamara Drew, albeit a more dramatic version. Fortunately, she is also able to handle the more dramatic material too. While, the young males of the cast struggle to standout, Fabrice Luchini and Isabelle Candelier do great work. Luchini gives us another character to latch onto, which is a lot of help when so much of the film is hard to get into while Candelier gives a lot of depth to a character that easily could have been the nagging wife or comedic relief.
Gemma Bovary is a more successful take on Madame Bovary tale, but it just goes to once again show that the source material just isn’t good enough to make a solid film in this day and age.