Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Gemma Bovery Review: A Feminized Flaubert And Objectified Male In The Buff
A sort of satirically laced literary pseudo-biopic, French writer/director Anne Fontaine's Gemma Bovery may very well be posing the question, what if Madame Bovary had been written from a woman's point of view instead. Though this somewhat lunatic provincial romp playing out in the present seems to have more to do with an idealized sense of existence lived within the unbridled male imagination that literary obsession might lead to, as opposed to being anchored in the real world.
In a tall tale romance with possibly no less than four infatuated males crowded into a single love triangle, Fabrice Luchini is Joubert, a despondent countryside baker in a region where wine is apparently deemed the local anti-depressant. Having bolted from Paris with his wife and son to rustic Normandy after ditching a vocation for a publishing house annotating university papers 'that nobody will ever read,' Joubert doesn't exactly discover a sought after serenity in taking over his father's town bakery.
On the other hand, his new relationship making bread and exploring a novel sensuous connection between flour and flesh, and exacerbated by his hopeless fixation on Madame Bovary, bodes ill when a new and fetching British neighbor (Gemma Arterton) turns up with the uncanny name Gemma Bovery. Not to mention Flaubert having written the novel right there in the 19th century.
Which eventually evolves into the silently smitten Joubert leading an alternate double life between baker and lurker. And stalking his often imaginary object of literary desire, while eluding her clueless artisan spouse (Jason Flemyng) and a seductive law school matriculated boy toy (Niels Schneider) holed up in a local castle. And ultimately in a sense, an intertwining of this fanciful fable with the radically revised novel running all around inside this Flaubert impersonator's borderline hallucinatory head.
This is Arterton's second venture into graphic novel screen stardom, following Stephen Frears' Tamara Drewe in 2010, and with Gemme Bovery adapted from the likewise female perspective penned by Posy Simmonds in both works. And the concoction however pensive, is a delightful blend of magic and buffoonery. Not to mention a film finally where in sex scenes the woman gets to keep some clothes on, while the male is consigned to prancing around in the objectified buff.