Madame Bovary

1991 [FRENCH]

Drama / Romance

Plot summary

Uploaded by: FREEMAN

Top cast

Isabelle Huppert Photo
Isabelle Huppert as Emma Bovary
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
1.28 GB
French 2.0
23.976 fps
2 hr 22 min
P/S 0 / 1
2.38 GB
French 2.0
23.976 fps
2 hr 22 min
P/S 0 / 1

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by rosscinema5 / 10

Cold look at a French literary classic

Even when a film tries to be as completely faithful as it can to the original source it can still end up lacking something that just doesn't transfer over to the big screen. There is definitely something missing here although it's hard to put a finger on it but it may be based on the way the story is presented. Story is about Emma (Isabelle Huppert) who lives with her father and dreams of a more exciting life and when she meets Dr. Charles Bovary (Jean-Francois Balmer) she looks at this as an opportunity for something different.


Emma marries Charles and at first she's happy but as time passes she becomes bored and loses interest in her husband but when he mentions the opportunity to move to a bigger town she agrees where he sets up a new practice. Emma and Charles have a daughter but this doesn't stop her from having affairs with Rodolphe (Christophe Malavoy) and Leon (Lucas Belvaux) and she also runs up a considerable debt with the hope that she will have run off with her lover before her husband finds out.

This film is directed by Claude Chabrol who specializes in dramas about lust and greed and selfishness and one would think that he would be perfect to direct but truthfully he seems out of his realm with period pieces. This is the ninth version of the 1857 novel by Gustave Flaubert and Chabrol carefully follows the story faithfully and even shot his film in or near Rouen where Flaubert lived but even with all this the film comes across as mostly disconnected and cold. Huppert is arguably the best actress to come out of France in 20 years and she does have some poignant moments and scenes but she just might be to good to play an unfaithful dreamer because she's more adept at portraying more complicated characters. At times she swoons like Emma would in a romantic novel but it doesn't come across as believable even though Huppert generally makes this effort watchable. Chabrol gives us an Emma that is totally unsympathetic and that sounds interesting but it is hard to feel one way or another for her especially considering that this film runs for a solid 2 1/2 hours. If your a fan of Flaubert's novel or of Huppert than you might want to give this a viewing but for others this is probably just to long and emotionally distant to stay with although I personally can watch anything Huppert is in.

Reviewed by dbdumonteil6 / 10

the film Flaubert would have made from his novel

This was Claude Chabrol's intention and it's easier to say than to do. Gustave Flaubert's novel was so rich, undulating that any adaptation in images can only be reducing and simplistic. More than the tragic story of its heroine, Flaubert's novel encompassed a word picture of Normandy (the bulk of the film was shot in the village of Lyons-La-Forêt near Rouen) and a cruel, cynical vision of the world. If the first feature is satisfying on the screen, the second one is hardly perceptible. Hence, this crucial question: is it possible to fully recreate Flaubert's novel? Chabrol's film is faithful to the main plot with the rise and fall of her heroine sometimes told by François Périer's voice-over in spite of accelerated views on certain vital episodes, notably the peasant marriage that disgusted Emma Bovary. On the other hand, the crest of the novel (the ball to the marquis) found a perfect equivalent in Chabrol's film with this shot which goes through the turning dresses creating thus a whirlpool. The glittering life Emma dreams of instead of a dull one with her mediocre husband Charles.

Chabrol is buoyed by topnotch interpretations. Even if Isabelle Huppert is a convincing Emma Bovary, a woman whose messy dreams and follies badly conceal boredom and disgust of her condition, the other main actors steal the show with Jean-François Balmer as the perfect, narrow-minded Charles Bovary, Christophe Malavoy as unfaithful Rodolphe Boulanger and Jean Yanne as the unscrupulous chemist Homais.

"Madame Bovary" is aesthetically a refined work with lush scenery and lavish costumes that recreate rural life in Normandy in the middle of the nineteenth Century. But Chabrol doesn't break new ground with this adaptation that required something else than an elegant directing, a brilliant cast and splendid scenery. That's why his rendering of Flaubert's work is just an honorable reading of the novel in the end. One could also add that Flaubert's book was a solid opportunity for an onslaught at provincial lower middle class. But it's only skimmed over and it's a wasted bonanza.

Chabrol's reading of "Madame Bovary" amounts to the same result as Claude Berri's adaptation of Emile Zola's epic novel "Germinal" in 1993: honorable instead of being unforgettable, a commendable action instead of a ground-breaking creation. The author of "le Boucher" (1970) was rather on the wrong track but fortunately, he'll find his way again the following year with another woman depiction: "Betty" (1992). Georges Simenon's universe suits him much better than Flaubert's one.

Reviewed by TheLittleSongbird6 / 10

Didn't quite resonate with me emotionally, but aesthetically beautiful and well acted

Anybody taking on Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary should get some credit for the effort, the book is a classic and one of the greatest pieces of European literature(it's also easy to see why it was so controversial at the time) but it isn't an easy one to adapt at all with some very easy traps to fall into(making the characters one-dimensional for one). Of the three adaptations of the book seen so far personally- the others being the 2000 and 1949 versions-, this one is the most faithful but also the one that resonated with me least. There is much to like still, for one it looks absolutely gorgeous with very picturesque scenery, evocative settings, make-up and costuming and photography that is elegant and alive with colour. The music is hauntingly understated and lyrical, underlying the atmosphere while letting the drama speak. Claude Chabrol directs with a deft if at times clinical hand, particularly good in showing how rigid socially and morally mid-19th century French provincial life was. The performances are also great. Isabelle Huppert can understandably be seen as cold(to be honest Emma is the main reason why the book adaptation-wise is not that accessible because it is not easy to feel genuine sympathy for her),especially compared to Frances O'Connor and Jennifer Jones, and maybe she is not youthful enough in the early scenes but her classic beauty makes her perfect for period drama and she does act with coolness and poise but there is a sense of being stifled and being a victim of her own passions. Jean-Francois Balmer is appropriately mild-mannered and sympathetic if somewhat equally appropriately clueless as her husband.

While Christophe Malavoy has the suavity and enigmatic menace just right and Lucas Belvaux is gentle without being dull. Jean Yanne shows Homais' unscrupulousness very well, and Jean-Louis Maury is good also as the malefic L'Heureux. Some things didn't come across as well. That it is faithful in detail to the book is laudable(most of the dialogue word for word),but it is one of those cases like the 1974 adaptation of The Great Gatsby of being too faithful that the dialogue while astonishingly literate and poetic lacks spark and emotion, the irony that surrounds Emma's tragic plight doesn't come across very well. The voice over doesn't really serve a point to the storytelling when it could have easily been said or shown, and that it is incorporated late and sparingly further gives it that notion. The story of the book is slow to begin with so it was not a bad thing for the adaptation to match the book's pacing. The thing is though the book's love scenes were passionate and there is also a lot of irony and bite. That the love scenes here were more coy than passionate(some of the chemistry looks uncomfortable),themes like the anti-clerical statements(quite savage ones at that) used in the book being excised and the writing having the poetry but not the irony made it not so easy to engage with and it all feels rather tame. The first half is often very ponderous and there is the sense that while the details are there what made the book so meaningful and shocking was lost. Overall, looks beautiful, skilfully directed and well-acted, but as a result of being too faithful emotionally and spirit-wise it felt cold and rather tame. The 2000 and 1949 also weren't as biting as the book, and they were nowhere near as faithful, but did have what this version didn't have. 6/10 Bethany Cox

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