Film Review: Gemma Bovery

Film Review: Gemma Bovery

In a picturesque, Normandy village, a tree-changer Parisian develops a friendship with his new, English neighbours and suddenly life begins to imitate art.

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GemmaBoveryThis English-French co-production, proved enormously popular as part of the French Film Festival.

And it’s not hard to see why it now returns for second public season.

Set in a picturesque, Normandy village, the story follows a tree-changer Parisian, Martin, played by Fabrice Luchini, as he develops a friendship with his new, English neighbours. His obsession with Flaubert’s “Madame Bovary” is fed both by the location (Flaubert lived nearby), and by his neighbours’ name.

Not surprisingly, life begins to imitate art. The script, by Pascal Bonitzer and Anne Fontaine, is based on the novel by renowned, British writer, Posy Simmonds.

Gemma herself, is an interesting character, and ably played by Gemma Arterton. Like her literary name-sake, she is not particularly likeable, yet manages, by the end, to engender our sympathy.

The main characters are surrounded by an array of well-drawn, minor characters, especially the lovely Elsa Zylberstein as Wizzy, and Jason Flemyng as Charlie.

At the heart of this piece is the one glue that holds Parisians and the English together: an over-sentimentalised view of the French countryside. It was boredom that drove Flaubert’s eponymous Emma; and it’s boredom that drives both Gemma and Martin.

This is a delicious, highly-likeable movie, competently directed by Anne Fontaine. The script is crisp and well-observed, performances are tight and the setting is bound to feed the aforementioned sentimentalisation.

Well worth a look.

Reviewed by Tracey Korsten
Twitter: @TraceyKorsten

Rating out of 10:  6.5

Gemma Bovery opens on 28 May 2015 at Palace Nova Eastend Cinemas.

@TraceyKorsten #GemmaBovery @AFFFF2015 #French

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