Rated: R for sexuality/nudity and language. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: June 19, 2015 Released by: Music Box Films
This slender French lark of an import from Anne Fontaine (Coco Before Chanel) doesn't quite whet the cinematic palate like Chocolat did in her modern reinterpretation of Gustav Flaubert's classic 19th century book 'Madame Bovary' also adapted concurrently on-screen to similar, if steamier viewer engagement with Mia Wasikowska and Paul Giamatti. This time it's a somewhat unoriginal and hazy, but sometimes salivating rendering of Posy Simmonds graphic novel that has an interesting piquant, farcical premise behind it. Besides being lushly lensed and making the most out of a gorgeous setting.
Gemma Bovery finds a little thematic resonance (having to do with the translation from an extension of the surname) with irony and intimacy to its progenitor through stars Gemma Arterton, Jason Flemyng, and Fabrice Lucchini using the latter's crestfallen betrothed baker (having relocated to rural Normandy from Paris for serenity taking the business over for his dad) and faithful reader Martin - a pathetic ebullience is felt. So, Fontaine uses Martin as the portal for obscuring reality with a certain amount of erotic thought going on as boredom leads to .
He idolizes the Flaubert tome written in the hamlet where he now dwells and comes to greet new married neighbors, furniture-specialist Charlie (Flemyng) and artistic, though lonely Gemma (a pulchritudinous Arterton, whom the camera probably doesn't give as much breathing room as she would have liked) with nearly the same last name. Changing viewpoints and plot tweaking dilutes a more promising potboiler plating into a romantic drama as Martin sees similarities between Emma Bovary and coquettish Gemma, perhaps even more spunky and sympathetic. Especially when she suddenly gets involved with a wealthy law student, Herve
(Niels Schneider, in a shadowy charismatic part) who studies in his family's swank chateau.
An intense, repressed nature is prevalent in the older Lucchini's projection into Arterton who tries to instill a timelessness into Gemma with some success through a bee sting and being on a treadmill. The intricacy the filmmakers deign from the protagonist does sideline other characters like Martin's sullen son, even Charlie a bit much from the primary events. Gemma Bovery has a jaunty way around emotion, as well as emoting, getting around the fringes of contentment to open up a little, maybe frustrating but spry in its way around verbal mishaps and expectations.