: : : Madame Bovary

Story

It's a mixed blessing, but Claude Chabrol's 1991 adaptation of Madame Bovary can at least claim a proper French pedigree in its fidelity to Flaubert's literary classic. It's certainly more faithful than Madame herself, played here with icy determination by Isabelle Huppert. Frustrated, repressed, and desperate for any opportunity to break free of her numbing marital bondage, the wife of Dr. Bovary finds her chance in the affections of Rodolphe Boulanger (Christophe Malavoy), but she is too shallow and too selfish to sense his lack of commitment. And as Flaubert's tale unfolds (along with Chabrol's dryly accurate interpretation), Emma Bovary finds herself caught in a snare of her own design. This tragedy of self-absorption--a universal study of indulgence, ignominy, and fatal discontent--should prove potent for anyone who feels the oppression of an unhappy marriage, but it's also a compelling study of boredom as an internal phenomenon. Huppert conveys exasperation, passion, and self-destruction in equal measure, yet she barely alters her passive, blank expression; her performance is too cold to ignite the resonant themes of Flaubert's novel. All in all, one wonders if Chabrol--seemingly uneasy with costume drama--is being too respectful of Flaubert at the cost of his own directorial mastery. This is a prestigious and worthwhile adaptation, but like one of Dr. Bovary's patients, it's been bled to the point of paleness and fainting. The result is a literate film that's "good for you," even though it may not be entirely good. --Jeff Shannon

DVD Features

  • Color
  • Widescreen

Cast

Isabelle Huppert
Jean Yanne
Thomas Chabrol

  • Genre: Drama Movies
  • Director: Claude Chabrol
  • Producer: MGM/UA
  • Length: 140 min
  • Aspect ratio: 1.66:1
  • Theatrical Release
    North AmericaDec 25, 1991
  • Ratings
    North AmericaPG-13
    EuropePG
    AustraliaPG
  • DVD Release
    North AmericaNov 5, 2002
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