Madame Bovary

MADAME BOVARY Rating: NN See listing. At least half a.

MADAME BOVARY Rating: NN See listing.

At least half a dozen screen adaptations of Flaubert’s Madame Bovary exist, but only this one – as director Sophie Barthes has proudly trumpeted in interviews – is helmed by a woman. If only the results were better.

Barthes’s version of the story of a bored, banal Frenchwoman (Mia Wasikowska) who seeks excitement outside her marriage to an unimaginative doctor (Henry Lloyd-Hughes) is your basic period drama given sumptuous visuals by cinematographer Andrij Parekh.

The pacing is glacial and predictable, and Barthes puts no discernible stamp upon the material. But Wasikowska makes her Emma Bovary unlikeable and yet pitiable and sympathetic. Paul Giamatti, Rhys Ifans and Ezra Miller pop up in supporting roles, but the funniest casting is Downton Abbey’s Laura Carmichael, who trades in Lady Edith’s glamorous frocks to play a maid.

If only she could tidy up this lifeless picture. 118 minutes. 

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