29 December 2020

Anne Fontaine's Gemma Bovery (2014)


Some of Gemma Bovery (adapted from Posy Simmonds' graphic novel, as was Tamara Drewe) is filmed in Lyons-la-Forêt, which is in Normandy, which is where academic Martin Joubert (Fabrice Luchini) moves to with his wife Valérie (Isabelle Candelier) to continue his late father's bakery business. But he can't forget books and he's just as crazed by them as Don Quixote or, er, Emma Bovary. And then the English couple Charles Bovery (only one vowel change) and Gemma Bovery (a consonant extra as well as the changed vowel) move opposite the Joubert house.

Martin is eager to please in every way, although he's more than a shade too old to please Emma sexually: Hervé de Bressigny, younger than Gemma, will satisfy that need. And as the dogs sniff around each other, the smitten Martin sniffs around Gemma, spying on the couple. He's given her an English copy of Flaubert's Madame Bovary to read, warning her that her activities will lead to death: he's particularly concerned about the arsenic she uses for the mice.

Inevitably, Gemma dies and Martin assumes it's arsenic. But he's wrong: she's choked on a piece of his bread.

And so Charles packs his bags but someones else moves in. A Russian girl? But she speaks perfect French! Ah, has she read Anna Karenina? Martin is at it again.

Conclusion? A personal one: you can't watch experimental, 'art house' (much as I hate the expression) movies all the time!

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